Editorial: Syria makes veiled hint of Bashar al-Assad resignation

Qadri Jamil, the country’s deputy prime minister, who was visiting Russia, said that the country would not allow negotiations predicated on Mr Assad standing down.

Assad attended prayers on Sunday to mark that start of a Muslim holiday and his first public appearance since a July 18 bombing killed four of his top security officials

“As for his resignation, making his resignation a condition for dialogue effectively makes holding such a dialogue impossible,” he said. “During the negotiating process any issues can be discussed, and we are ready to discuss even this issue.”

Most Syrian opposition parties and rebels fighting inside the country have said they will not accept any solution to the crisis short of Mr Assad’s resignation. The west has taken a similar stance, backing an Arab League proposal under which he would hand power to his vice-president, Farouq al-Sharaa.

Russia has backed an alternative approach under which the regime holds negotiations with internal opposition leaders to promote a “political transition plan” whose end result would be decided during the talks. Rebels fear such a plan would simply be an excuse to win time for the regime.

Mr Jamil also dismissed a warning by President Barack Obama that any hint of the deployment or transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons was a “red line” that would trigger American intervention.

“Obama’s threats are simply propaganda linked to the US elections,” he said.

Meanwhile, Turkey said it was investigating whether there were Syrian links to a bomb attack on a police station near the border between the two countries. The attack killed nine people, including a 12-year-old girl, in the town of Gaziantep, near one of the two main border posts into Syria now in rebel hands.

The Kurdish separatist group, PKK, which has waged a long insurgency against Turkish rule, denied responsibility for the blast in a statement to a newspaper. It has seized the opportunity provided by the uprising to take control of a number of towns in Syrian Kurdistan, and Turkey fears that it is being used by Damascus to take revenge for Ankara’s support for the rebel cause.

The local MP for the ruling AK party in Gaziantep claimed the bombing was the work of the PKK and Syrian military intelligence. But Ahmet Davutoglu, the foreign minister, said that while possible links were being investigated, there was as yet no concrete evidence.

Source: The Telegraph

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