Over 19,000 dead as Russian envoy says Assad will not quit
The Russian ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, said Sunday it is "hard to imagine" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would stay in power, believing that his departure should be done "in a civilized manner", as was done during the transition in Yemen. "Yes it is hard to imagine he will stay (in power). I think he understands this himself but it should be organized in a civilized manner, as was done for example in Yemen, "said Alexander Orlov in an interview with the French newspaper, "Le Parisien".
"Contrary to Libya where (Muammar) Gaddafi was one man show, in Syria there is a Baathist regime that has existed for decades. With or without Assad, the regime will hold," he said. The ambassador, who had already raised the possibility of a negotiated departure of Assad, however, also reaffirmed the position that Russia had always considered the fate of Bashar al-Assad should be decided by the Syrian people, without foreign interference, unlike Westerners who call for his departure.
"This is the Syrian people who must decide their future," he repeated, saying there is "an internal opposition ready to negotiate with the current president." "The fact that the final communiqué by the Geneva (meeting) on June 30 has been accepted by Bashar al-Assad, who has already designated a representative for future negotiations with opponents, shows that in his heart, President Assad accepts the idea that he could leave, "he said.
Meanwhile, on the ground the fighting continues. The Syrian army has launched several assaults to regain control on neighborhoods of Damascus and Aleppo, Syria's second city. On Sunday morning, clashes between the troops and the rebels continued in these two cities, according to activists.
In Damascus, where the army has regained ground Friday, clashes are concentrated in neighborhoods and orchards of Barze and Mazze. An explosion was heard in the area of Mazze, and in the center of Damascus, as security forces have intensified their presence, inspecting cars and checking identities.
According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), Syrian troops backed by tanks launched an assault on the neighborhood of Barze (north) and violent clashes are taking place.
More than 19,000 people died in violence in Syria since the beginning of the revolt in March 2011, said SOHR. Most of the victims are are civilians (13,296).