Syrian deputy PM says war has reached stalemate, cease-fire an option

In Guardian interview, Qadri Jamil says 'zero balance of forces' will not end 'for a while'

Qadri Jamil speaks with media after of the 'national dialogue' meeting between representatives of the Syrian government and the new Syrian opposition in Tehran, on November 18, 2012.
Atta Kenmare/AFP/Getty Images

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil was quoted Thursday suggesting that neither side in the country's civil war is capable of military victory and that the government of Bashar al-Assad may seek a cease-fire.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Jamil told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published Thursday.

"This zero balance of forces will not change for a while," he added.

He also indicated that the regime may call for a cease-fire if proposed peace talks, known as Geneva 2, come to fruition.

While both the U.S. and Russia have agreed to the talks in principle, it is uncertain which of the groups currently fighting in Syria would attend and under what terms.

Jamil indicated that the government of Assad could accept a cease-fire "under international observation" if it were agreed to by armed opposition forces.

While the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in Syria brought the U.S. close to ordering a strike against Assad, whom the West blames for the attack, they agreed to a deal with Russia last Saturday that would eliminate Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

That plan awaits a United Nations Security Council vote for it to win Syria's full agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.N.'s "definitive" report had proved that the Syrian regime was behind the chemical weapons attack in August.

"Now the test comes. The Security Council must be prepared to act next week," Kerry said. "It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out."

The Guardian said Jamil indicated that the Syrian economy had lost about $100 billion during the war, equivalent to two years of normal production.

During the interview, Jamil laid out what the Assad government would seek in the case of a Geneva 2 conference.

Over a year ago, Jamil said that the eventual resignation of Assad was a possibility through the result if peace talks were conducted. 

"An end to external intervention, a cease-fire 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," he said.

Rebels have been fighting government forces in a civil war which has claimed 100,000 lives since 2011. Rebel forces control large areas of the country while better-armed forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad retain Damascus and key army bases.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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