DAMASCUS, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Syrian minister of national reconciliation confirmed Tuesday his recent media statements that his government is ready to hold talks with head of Syrian exiled opposition coalition Moaz al-Khatib.
In a press briefing at the ministry's headquarters in the capital Damascus, the minister, Ali Haidar, stressed that "the government is ready... because it has originally put forward the dialogue project based on the inclusive political program" outlined by President Bashar al-Assad last month.
However, Haidar said he regarded al-Khatib's conditioned calls for dialogue as "ideas" and noted that the Syrian government did not receive any written initiative from the opposition.
"The government works according to official methods but the government didn't receive a written initiative from an official party to study it. But I have mentioned that we have heard through the media some news about what I call a number of thoughts," he said.
Last week, al-Khatib made a surprising statement by declaring his readiness to negotiate with the Syrian administration provided that the pro-Assad security forces release as many as 160,000 detainees from jails. He also demanded that the negotiations be held with Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa as a representative of the Assad administration.
The government has not officially responded to the initiative so far. However, analysts and some officials said the dialogue should not be preconditioned. They also added that the number of detainees al-Khatib mentioned is exaggerated.
In his briefing Tuesday, Haidar said he has expressed readiness to handle the detainees issue, but asked for a list of names of those detainees.
The minister, meanwhile, repeated the government's line that the dialogue should be held in Syria, under the Syrian supervision, and with Syrians only.
DAMASCUS, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- The armed rebels have been intensifying violence in Syria with a purpose of achieving gains on the ground before embarking on negotiations with President Bashar al-Assad's administration, observers said.
Since last week, the rebels reinforced their attacks at the eastern and northern suburbs around the capital Damascus, while over the past two days, the armed rebels have reportedly seized a number of government and army establishments and overrun a town in the country's north. Full story
DAMASCUS, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Armed rebels have wreaked havoc on an archeological village in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, the pro-government al-Watan daily said Monday.
Gunmen attacked the archeological Brad village, some 40 km north of Aleppo. The village, inhabited by 5,000 Kurds and annually visited by Christian pilgrims, combines a tomb and church of Saint Maroun, the patron saint of the Maronites, according to the report. Full story
DAMASCUS, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- A Syrian military source on Sunday dismissed as unfounded media reports that the armed rebels in northern province Aleppo had overrun two bases near the military airport of Ming.
The source, whose remarks were carried by the state-run SANA news agency, said "such false allegations come as part of the desperate attempts to lift the collapsing morale of the armed groups that are facing strikes by our valiant army." Full story
DAMASCUS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army foiled the attempt of armed rebels to wage a wide-scale offensive on the capital Damascus, the pro-government al-Watan daily said Thursday.
As the information has been flowing to the Syrian security forces about the rebels' attempt to attack Damascus, the Syrian troops carried out a pre-emptive operation on Tuesday evening, destroying many rebels' hideouts and killing many of them, the paper said, adding that the operation has pushed the rebels in the eastern suburbs of Jobar and Zamalka to unleash attacks against army checkpoints in those areas on Wednesday in a bid to reach the Abbasyen Square in the capital "to which they couldn't even get close." Full story