Syrian opposition's gains make peace conference unlikely - Hague
The intensified Syrian government offensives against the opposition is damaging chances of staging a peace conference on the conflict, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday.
Noting that the UK expects the conditions of the crisis to worsen, Hague added that Britain has not yet decided if it will provide Syrian rebels with arms.
Hague called for a redoubling of international efforts to bring Syrian President Bashar Assad to the negotiating table with representatives of the opposition, AFP reported.
Hague's comments, made on the sidelines of a UN Security Council meeting in New York, come as hopes for the US-Russian agreed Geneva conference have dwindled in light of the significant territorial gains that Assad's troops have been making on the ground in Syria.
Assad's foreign minister spoke out on the conference on Geneva on Monday, claiming that the Syrian president would not cede power.
Since the toppling of strategic border town Qusayr, and with the help of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, Assad's forces have been diminishing the rebel presence in the north of the country with incessant offensives against the city of Aleppo, which has been a rebel-held bastion for the majority of the now two year old conflict. In light of the gains and reports of regime brutality, many critics of the Geneva conference do not believe that the two Syrian sides will be able to reconcile in order to formulate a political solution to the crisis.
"What is being done now by the regime who have embarked on fresh military offensives since it was agreed that we would have a second Geneva conference is not helping to bring that about," Hague told an AFP reporter in New York.
"It places the opposition in a more difficult situation since to go to Geneva while such offensives are being conducted against them obviously is more difficult for them," he added.
"But we must not give up at all on trying to bring such a conference together. There has to be a political solution," AFP reported Hague as saying.
The UN Security Council meeting comes days after 11 foreign ministers met in Doha for the Friends of Syria conference, which largely focused on the logistics of arming the Syrian opposition.
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