Syria’s vice president has said his regime and the rebels are both going down a losing path after 21 months of civil war, a rare admission by a senior government official that victory is unlikely for president Bashar Assad.
The comments by Farouk al-Sharaa came as an Islamist faction of Syrian rebels captured an infantry base in the northern city of Aleppo, and Syrian warplanes blasted a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, killing eight people and wounding dozens, activists said.
Al-Sharaa told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar that neither the rebels nor the Assad regime could “decide the battle militarily”.
It appeared to be an attempt to show that the rebels are not the solution to the Syria conflict, and their victory might bring chaos to the country.
Balancing that, he said the Assad regime “cannot achieve change”.
The solution to the conflict must come from within Syria, al-Sharaa said, adding that any political settlement “must include stopping all types of violence, and the creation of a national unity government with wide powers”.
The Assad regime has long rejected Western involvement in the civil war and has called for talks with the opposition. Most rebel groups refuse to meet Assad, demanding his removal from power before laying down their arms.
Excerpts of the interview were posted on Al-Akhbar’s English-language website.
Last week more than 100 nations, including the US, recognised the new Syrian opposition council as the legitimate representative of the country, a boost for the opposition forces that have been bombing regime targets in and around Damascus, once an impregnable stronghold of the Assad regime.
In the latest blow to Assad, rebels overran a military base in Aleppo, the second military installation to fall there in a week.
A statement by the al-Tawheed Brigade said the rebels “fully liberated” the military facility in Aleppo on Saturday. It was posted on al-Tawheed’s official website and said the Islamist rebel brigade’s commander was killed in the battle.
The complex, known as Hanano Barracks, includes an army base, a recruiting centre and a military school.
The Al-Tawheed Brigade is one of the largest rebel groups operating in Aleppo, which has been a major front in the civil war since July.
One of the videos posted on the group’s website shows the body of a man the narrator said is “the hero and martyr who was killed on the day of liberating the infantry school”, apparently the Al-Tawheed commander Colonel Youssef al-Jader.