Syria rebels dismiss Assad regime's call for ceasefire as effort to "confuse" international community

Smoke rises after a bomb was thrown from a helicopter, hitting a rebel position during heavy fighting between troops loyal to president Bashar Assad and opposition fighters in the Idlib province countryside, Syria, Sept. 19, 2013. AP Photo

A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition National Coalition (SNC) dismissed the Assad regime's call for a ceasefire on Friday, saying the Deputy Prime Minister's comment to a British newspaper was, "not a credible statement."

Louay Safi, a spokesman for the Turkey-based SNC told CBS News that his group wasn't opposed to a ceasefire in the bloody conflict, which has left more than 100,000 people dead during the past two-and-a-half years, "but it has to be part of a comprehensive peace plan."

In an interview published Thursday in The Guardian, Deputy Syrian Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said the war had effectively reached a "stalemate" with neither the government nor the rebels capable of defeating the other side.

In comments which seemed to hint at what the Assad regime might bring to the table at a new round of international peace talks on the crisis in his country, Jamil suggested the idea of a ceasefire, but only in the context of "an end to external intervention," and "the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."

The SNC, and its U.S. and European allies, have pushed for a peace deal which would see President Bashar Assad hand power to a transitional government -- leaving power himself. The SNC has thus-far refused to accept any deal which could leave Assad in power, even as part of a transitional government.

At a July peace summit in Geneva, a group of nations gathered under the auspices of the United Nations, including the U.S. and Syrian ally Russia, and eventually laid out a six-step framework for a peace deal in an official communique. The communique did call for a transitional government, but it states that the government "could include members of the present government and the opposition."

The first step in the framework laid out in the Geneva Communique is for a cessation of all violence.

To that end, Safi told CBS News on Friday that Jamil's remarks represented nothing more than an effort to "confuse the international community," noting that no real ceasefire could be in the offing as towns and cities in Syria remain under siege.

The leader of Syria's Western-backed opposition group Ahmad Al-Jarba.
AP

SNC president Ahmad al-Jarba, in a letter sent Thursday to the current leader of the United Nations Security Council, said his group was still committed to the peace process which began with the Geneva summit, and called on the Assad regime to commit to the principles set forth in the communique ahead of an expected second summit in the Swiss city.

"All parties must declare their support for the complete terms of the Communique and agree that the purpose of the conference will be the establishment of a transitional government with 'full executive powers,' created on the basis of 'mutual consent,'" said al-Jarba.

No date has been set for the so-called Geneva II conference as yet, as all diplomatic efforts on the Syria crisis remain focused squarely on negotiations within the Security Council to agree the terms of a Russian-U.S. plan for Syria to handover all of its chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.