DAMASCUS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The political vision initiated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is "integral" and it is the political solution to the Syrian crisis "in every sense of the word," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said in an interview with the state TV aired Saturday evening.
Starting by praying for the peace of the country's victims, al- Moallem said the political solution outlined by Assad recently had addressed all spectra of the Syrian society, including the internal and exiled opposition, adding that his country has no illusions that the violence would stop, but he left the door open for hope that it would stop if the countries that support the " terrorists" in Syria could curb their actions.
He named Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey as the patrons of the armed opposition on ground, saying that his country would be open for a new UN observation mission had the violence by the armed militias and the support by regional countries stopped first.
In his first address to the nation since June 2012, Assad proposed in early January a three-point vision for a political solution to end the Syrian crisis. The new initiative includes a ceasefire, followed by a comprehensive national dialogue, and the establishment of a broad-based government and parliament.
The speech was rejected by the opposition, which said Assad had sidestepped a point the opposition deemed crucial, which was to relinquish power. Also, the United States and its allies dismissed the speech as "disconnected from reality."
Al-Moallem, meanwhile, said Assad's vision comes to meet the inspirations of the Syrian people, adding that it was build on national basis, namely rejecting the foreign intervention in Syria and renouncing terrorism.
He said the Syrian government has started contacting several parties to prepare for the national inclusive dialogue and stressed that weapons are not the way to achieve change, adding that the basis of national dialogue is halting the violence and rejecting foreign intervention.
He likened Assad to a ship captain, and questioned: what would happen to the ship if its captain abandoned it with the first high wave?
No one owns the decision of legitimacy but the Syrian people, he added.
Al-Moallem made it clear that the United States and some Syrian opposition insistence on their calls for ousting the president as a condition for dialogue "means that they want the continuation of violence."
Speaking about the U.S. sway and its role in the Syrian crisis, al-Moallem stressed that "if the U.S. wanted the violence in Syria to stop, it will stop."
Asked whether Syria has chemical weapons, al-Moallem said such campaign had been started by the United States to repeat the Iraqi scenario, when it falsely alleged the existence of mass destruction weapons in Iraq as prelude for invasion.
He repeated the government line that "even if there were chemical weapons, they will not use them because Syria and the army is defending our people. It's not logical to destroy our people."
The minister said that he is not pessimistic because the new political initiative would build Syria, calling on all activists to take part in the dialogue and the political program "because it 's made for them."
DAMASCUS, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army backed by air forces pounded Saturday several rebel strongholds in the outskirts of the capital Damascus while clashes elsewhere intensified in the war-engulfed country.
Artillery and airstrikes were reported to have hit the southwestern suburbs of Daraya and Muadamieh, according to activists, who added that many people were killed in the raid. Full story
BEIRUT, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zaspykin said Friday his country "stresses the political path as the only solution to the Syrian crisis."
Zaspykin said following his meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour that Russia is keen on preserving Syria's unity and sovereignty, adding that "We will continue to urge all Syrian feuding parties to stop violence and get them engaged in dialogues." Full story
DAMASCUS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- At least 24 people were killed and more than 30 wounded Wednesday when triple car bombs went off in a swift succession in Syria's northern province of Idlib, a day after at least 82 university students got killed in massive blasts in Aleppo city, which unleashed a barrage of international condemnation.
Broad-based activists' network Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the killed were soldiers when the three explosions hit army targets in Idlib, while local media said most of the killed were civilians, leaving the exact targets vague. Full story