DAMASCUS, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army has enough manpower and equipment to defend the country for many years to come, a pro-government paper cited an official source as saying Tuesday, noting however that the citizens should start to take part in defending their areas.
Quoting well informed sources, al-Watan stressed that the Syrian army's condition is very well. "The Syrian army has enough manpower and equipment for many years to come in the war to defend Syria," the source was cited by the paper as saying, noting however that "this doesn't mean that Syrians should only be confined to watch the news of battles without taking part each according to his ability."
The paper's remarks came following recent talks about a possible declaration of general alert after some prominent clergymen have recently floated the idea in their statements.
Last Friday, prominent clergyman Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti called on Syria's grand mufti to declare the general mobilization to back the Syrian troops in its battles against the "mercenaries. "
Bouti's statement was materialized on Sunday when Syria's Supreme Iftaa Council, the highest clergy council in the country, issued a statement calling for a general alert among the public to defend the country.
In its statement, the Council called on the Syrian public to support the Syrian army and the youth to join the service to defend the country, the heritage and religion from what the statement branded as the enemies wanting to rip the country in pieces.
The source stressed that "Syria is in a state of a real war and the army is doing its job perfectly, but now it's the citizens' turn to defend their neighborhoods and areas as it happened in east of Aleppo, Hama and Homs and other areas when the citizens, men and women, held up available weapons and formed committees of national defense and armies whose mission was to defend the land" with the help of the army.
While the idea of general mobilization doesn't seem sound in the midst of the conflict that has been ripping Syria apart since two years, such move needs to be announced by the president himself to take effect.
Such idea has come as the Syrian troops have become stretched out in urban battles in several Syrian cities as part of the war of attrition the western-backed rebels have been waging.
Armed local committees have also been formed over the past months from local people who want to defend their areas against possible rebels' attacks. Yet, most of those committees were formed in areas of minorities who fear the threat of the radical Sunni rebels, particularly with the rising star of al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front that has become the striking rebel force against the government troops.
A recent UN report has warned that the conflict in Syria "is becoming more sectarian," a claim which is totally rejected by the Syrian government.
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) reaffirmed on Monday that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is a political one, while Russia also voiced its hope for a political settlement despite obstacles.
In Brussels, the EU's foreign ministers discussed the situation in Syria with Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and Arab League special representative for Syria. Full story