Syria's opposition makes new offer for dialogue with al-Assad

Syria's opposition makes new offer for dialogue with al-Assad

Syria's main opposition coalition on Monday floated the idea of dialogue with the regime in rebel-held areas in northern Syria, an attempt to distance any such meeting from the disputed capital, Damascus, dpa reported.

However, any such talks are unlikely, as the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ruled out any meetings with the opposition, with which it has been at odds, often violently, for almost two years.

"If the regime is concerned with sovereignty and does not want to venture out of Syrian territories (to hold dialogue), then there is a suitable solution, which is the liberated land in northern Syria," Moaz al-khatib, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, wrote on his Facebook page.

Al-Khatib explained Monday in a press conference in Cairo that he is not offering "a surrender move" and that his aim is to ease the ordeals of the Syrian people.

"If I see that my offer would harm the revolution, I will definitely abandon it," he told reporters.

Coalition spokesman Walid al-Bunni told dpa: "We refuse to hold talks with representatives of the regime inside Damascus, as we think it is a big prison for the Syrian people."

Al-Khatib asked last week to hold a dialogue with regime members who did not have "blood on their hands" and asked that al-Assad dispatch Vice President Faruk a-Sharaa for talks.

He also called for the release of some 160,000 prisoners and emphasized the need for the release of all female detainees by Sunday, saying the move would be needed before any dialogue.

Al-Khatib on Monday criticized Damascus' unwillingness to talk and said it has sent "a very negative message" to the world by failing to welcome his earlier offer for peace talks to end the nearly two-year conflict.

Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said the government is prepared to have a dialogue, but without preconditions.

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met al-Khatib late Sunday and urged him to keep seeking dialogue with the government.

The new offer came as rebels launched fierce assaults upon troops in several parts of the country, especially inside the capital and areas in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

Syria's uprising, which started in 2011 as peaceful protests against the regime of al-Assad, has turned into a violent conflict that has so far killed, according to UN estimates, 60,000 people.

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