World powers agree Syria deal, US eyes post-Assad regime

World powers on Saturday agreed a plan for a transition in Syria that could include current regime members, but the West did not see any role for President Bashar al-Assad in a new unity government.

Russia and China insisted that Syrians must decide how the transition should be carried out rather than allow others to dictate their fate, as the two powers signed up to the final agreement that did not make any explicit call for Assad to cede power.

The deal came despite initial pessimism from participants about the prospects of the Geneva talks amid deep divisions between the West and China and Russia on how to end the violence that claimed at least 53 lives on Saturday.

Rights monitors said most victims were civilians and hundreds more were trapped in Douma as regime forces stormed the town in Damascus province.

While international envoy Kofi Annan did not name names and said it was up to the Syrians to decide who they wanted in a unity government, he added: "I would doubt that Syrians... would select people with blood on their hands to lead them."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that Washington did not see a role for Assad in the transition.

"Assad will still have to go. He will never pass the mutual consent test," she said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius took the same stance, saying, "It's clear that Assad must stand down".

"No one can imagine for a moment that Assad will feature in the (new) government, any more than anyone thinks it possible for him to establish a neutral environment" required by the agreement, he said, adding that the transition government "will exclude murderers."

British Foreign Minister William Hague admitted that the deal was a "compromise agreement" as Russia played up the fact that it had convinced other world powers that it would be "unacceptable" to exclude any party from the transition process.

A long-time Syria ally, Russia is loathe to cast Assad aside, even as relations between Moscow and Damascus have cooled.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: "How exactly the work on a transition to a new stage is conducted will be decided by the Syrians themselves."

"There are no demands to exclude from this process any one group. This aspect had been present in many of our partners' proposals. We have convinced them that this is unacceptable," Lavrov said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi also stressed that "outsiders cannot make decisions for the Syrian people."

As divisions threatened to scupper talks earlier Saturday, Annan warned at the opening of the meeting that history would not look favourably on leaders who failed to chart a strategy to end the bloodshed in Syria.

A failure to unite also raised the spectre that the conflict that has claimed 15,800 lives over 16 months in the strategic Middle East country could spill over to the region and expose the world to fresh threats, said the former UN chief.

"History is a sombre judge -- and it will judge us all harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path today," Annan told the five permanent Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, Britain, China and France -- as well as regional powers Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait and Iraq.

Meanwhile fighting in Syria has only intensified in recent weeks as both government and opposition forces have received more weapons from their foreign backers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned of a "catastrophic humanitarian situation" in besieged Douma, which "has been subjected to a fierce military campaign since June 21."

Violence has killed "scores and wounded hundreds" there since regime forces escalated attacks on the outlying suburb of Damascus, the group said.

"More than 100 families remain in the town, unable to flee and forced to take refuge in shelters," it said.

An explosion also rocked the Qaboon district of Damascus on Saturday and another blast hit the country's second city Aleppo in the north. A further blast hit an oil pipeline in a rebel-held area of the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The latest violence came a day after 73 people were killed nationwide, among them 23 regime troops.

While the violence rages there is also mounting concern about the destabilising impact it has on the region, in particular Jordan and Lebanon.

And the Turkish-Syrian border remains a potential flashpoint.

Turkey has sent tanks, troops and missile batteries toward the frontier, after Syria shot down a Turkish jet just over a week ago.

Meanwhile the head of the rebels' Free Syrian Army told AFP that 2,500 Syrian soldiers were "massing 15 kilometres (10 miles) or slightly more from the Turkish border" on Friday.

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi -- elected after a revolution that overthrew strongman Hosni Mubarak -- on Saturday called for an end to bloodshed in Syria, in his inaugural address.

"We support the Syrian people. We want the bloodshed to stop," he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar
    South Korea decriminalises adultery, condom shares soar

    South Korea's Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a controversial adultery law which for more than 60 years had criminalised extra-marital sex and jailed violators for up to two years. The decision saw shares in the South Korean firm Unidus Corp., one of the world's largest condom manufacturers, soar by the daily limit of 15 percent on the local stock exchange. "Even if adultery should be condemned as immoral, state power should not intervene in individuals' private lives," said …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe
    National Geographic 'Afghan girl' in Pakistan papers probe

    Pakistani officials are investigating after the famous green-eyed "Afghan girl" immortalised in a 1985 National Geographic magazine cover was found living in the country on fraudulent identity papers. The haunting image of the then 12-year-old Sharbat Gula, taken in a refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history. Now Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in the northwestern city of Peshawar in April …

  • ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’
    ‘Noy angered by previous SAF failures to get Marwan’

    Supt. Raymund Train, who led the SAF team that killed Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, recounted in a sworn statement the meeting he and senior SAF officers had with Aquino in Malacañang on Nov. 30. Train said among the senior officers who attended the meeting were then PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas, SAF deputy commander Chief Supt. Noli Taliño and intelligence group chief Senior Supt. Fernando Mendez. …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate
    IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate

    "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. "Jihadi John", nicknamed after Beatle John Lennon due to his British accent, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options