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US rejects Assad offer to fight Al-Qaeda in return for staying in power

February 3, 2014 at 10:32 am

America has rejected an offer by the Syrian regime to fight Al-Qaeda and jihadists in the country in return for staying in power in Damascus, the prime minister of the Syrian National Coalition’s opposition government has revealed.

Speaking to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Ahmed Touma said that the Americans told the coalition about the offer. The US, he claimed, put the blame for the increase in Al-Qaeda activity in the country firmly on the Assad regime in Damascus.

The opposition prime minister denied any US-Russian deal at the expense of the coalition despite the agreement of both to destroy the stock of chemical weapons held by the Assad government. He told the London-based newspaper that Russia had asked some questions of the opposition about the guarantees that could be offered to Moscow regarding its interests in Syria and the region in return for “facilitating” its position with regards to the regime. Touma said that the coalition will respond to such questions in due course.

Asked why the coalition is going to take part in the proposed Geneva II Conference, the opposition head said that the group is not going to “negotiate” with the regime. “The coalition will not accept any deal that keeps Bashar Al-Assad in power,” he insisted, adding that the coalition does not deal with “extremists” who are fighting the regime. “We have contact with groups which are described best as moderate,” he pointed out.