18 Dec 2012

Settlement needed in Syria - VP

6:05 am on 18 December 2012

Vice-President Farouq al-Sharaa of Syria is reported as saying that neither side can win the conflict there.

Mr Sharaa told al-Akhbar, a newspaper in Lebanon, that the situation was worsening and a "historic settlement" was needed.

He said neither the opposition nor the actions of the security forces could achieve a decisive settlement to the ongoing violence.

Mr Sharaa, 74, a Sunni Muslim, has rarely been seen since the uprising began. He is not believed to part of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle, which is dominated by members of his family and his minority Alawite sect.

However, the BBC reports he is the most prominent government figure to say in public that the military will not defeat the rebellion.

Mr Sharaa spoke to al-Akhbar from the capital, Damascus, where there has been intense fighting in recent weeks.

"With every passing day the political and military solutions are becoming more distant," he said.

"We should be in a position defending the existence of Syria. We are not in a battle for an individual or a regime."

"The opposition cannot decisively settle the battle and what the security forces and army units are doing will not achieve a decisive settlement."

Mr Sharaa said any settlement "must be Syrian" but also must involve regional powers and the UN Security Council, and lead to the formation of a "national unity government with broad powers".

A BBC correspondent said it was not clear what kind of role Mr Sharaa has in mind for Mr Assad in such a government. However, the opposition has rejected all suggestions which might keep him in power.