Sunday, June 24, 2018

Syrian opposition rejects new international plan

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria's main opposition groups rejected on Sunday a new international plan that calls for a transitional government because the compromise agreement did not bar President Bashar Assad from participating.

Their reaction held out little hope for an end to more than 15 months of carnage on a day when the main opposition group said 800 people were killed in violence in the past week alone.

Opposition activist groups say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad's authoritarian rule began in March 2011, or on average about 900 a month.

Death tolls are virtually impossible to verify in tightly controlled Syria, which imposes severe restrictions on journalists.

World powers at a conference in Geneva on Saturday accepted a U.N.-brokered plan calling for creation of a transitional national unity government with full executive powers in Syria. But at Russia's insistence, the compromise agreement left the door open to Assad being part of the interim administration. It could also include members of Assad's government and the opposition and other groups. The transitional government would oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections.

Syria's fragmented opposition has long opposed any solution that involved negotiating with Assad or allowing him to cling to power.

Bassma Kodmani, a Paris-based spokeswoman for the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, said the agreement is "ambiguous" and lacks a mechanism or timetable for implementation.

The regime did not react to the plan. But Assad has repeatedly said his government has a responsibility to eliminate terrorists — his term for those fighting the regime — and will not accept any non-Syrian model of governance.

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