Assad's New Demand Could Scuttle Planned Peace Conference
(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Efforts to put together a summit that might produce a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria were set back Wednesday when President Bashar al-Assad demanded that the international community halt assistance to his adversaries. Syrian state TV reported that Assad told United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that the "success of any political solution is tied to stopping support for terrorist groups and pressuring their patron states."
Throughout the conflict that began in March 2011, the Syrian leader has referred to opposition groups as "terrorists," whether they are legitimate forces fighting for democracy or radical Islamic militants who have joined the battle to oust Assad from power.
Assad's insistence on preconditions before the planned Nov. 23 summit called "Geneva 2" throws a monkey wrench into Brahimi's strategy to bring the warring factions together for talks to end the civil war that has cost more than 115,000 lives and displaced millions.
The main opposition groups have also been intransigent in their demands for attending what appears to be an ill-fated conference, demands which include Assad stepping down from office.
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