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News Analysis: Syrian opposition maneuvering for gov't concessions ahead of peace talks

English.news.cn   2014-02-26 18:16:03

DAMASCUS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- As previous Geneva talks yielded no tangible results, the Syrian opposition and its backers are exploiting humanitarian and military issues to pressure the government into concessions at the next round of their peace talks, analysts say.

In the talks in mid-February, the opposition demanded the formation of a transitional governing body without any role for President Bashar al-Assad, while the government, gaining an upper hand on the battleground, insisted on prioritizing counter- terrorism discussions, saying al-Qaida-linked groups were mushrooming across Syria.

Analysts say the opposition, whose leadership is based in Turkey's Istanbul, and its backers are now exerting pressure on the Assad administration ahead of the last round of talks set to take place within a few weeks.

Following the mid-February talks, some world powers floated the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, pushing for and getting adopted a UN resolution mandating humanitarian access to all its cities. Besides civilians, resource-strapped rebels in besieged cities also benefits from the resolution.

Esam Khalil, a Syrian lawmaker, told Xinhua: "the humanitarian situation in Syria has turned into a political asset for the West, " which supports the opposition. He also pointed out while the government was committed to aid delivery, some "terrorists" were hindering the process.

The lawmaker believes a Russian-American consensus on a political solution and the seriousness of the United States in that regard will largely contribute to an end to Syria's three- year-old crisis.

Apart from exploiting the humanitarian situation, the opposition fighters are reportedly planning a large-scale offensive in countryside of Damascus in an attempt to break a government siege and to halt their progress in central Syria.

The Lebanese al-Manar TV, along with pro-government Syrian TV outlets, said some Western and Arab countries were stepping up support for the rebels, mainly in the southern province of Daraa bordering Jordan.

Some reports said thousands of rebels were receiving special training in camps on the Syrian-Jordanian border with the aim to wage attacks on Damascus, some 98 km from Daraa.

Last November, government forces thwarted a rebel offensive and killed hundreds of fighters as they stream into Daraa from Jordan. That episode has strengthened the notion that there was a scheme being crafted in the southern region.

"There is no country in the world that can grant legitimate cover for the terrorism in Syria... The Syrian army has taken all necessary measures and emergency plans to face any new development in that regard," Khalil told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, Maher Murhej, the head of the oppositional Youth Party, downplayed the threats of military operation in the south. "This battle will not happen because if it was really planned..., they would not have talked about it. It is an attempt to release some pressure on the rebels in Yabrud," a city in central Syria.

Murhej predicts the next round of talks will take place within two weeks, expecting an international counter-terrorism decision and outlining of a transitional governing body.

He noted that the recent development was reminiscent of the heightened tension following a U.S. threat to strike Syria over an alleged chemical attack outside of Damascus last year. The threat was retracted after Syria agreed to have its chemical weapon arsenal destroyed under international supervision.

"The recent escalation aims to extort concessions from the Syrian leadership, given its intransigent stance regarding the formation of an interim government. So usually when we hear the drums of a war, there will be no war at all," he said.

Editor: Fu Peng
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