Syrian Foreign Minister to rebels: Lay down your arms and join transitional government
A Rebel fighter points at smoke rising in the city of Aleppo on Friday. UN leader Ban Ki-moon has warned that Syria is in a "death spiral". (AFP)
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Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Saturday called on rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to lay down their arms, Syrian state TV reported.
Moallem said people participating in the amnesty would be included in a new government with executive powers, so long as they reject foreign intervention.
Earlier in January Assad reiterated promises of reform made in previous months, including a national reconciliation conference, elections and a new constitution.
However, the opposition maintains that Assad can not be a part of a resolution to the crisis that broke out in March 2011.
"I tell the young men who carried arms to change and reform, take part in the dialogue for a new Syria and you will be a partner in building it. Why carry arms," Moallem said in the hour-long interview. "Those who want foreign intervention will not be among us."
He also said groups fighting with the opposition and financed from the Arabian peninsular states and Turkey comprised militants from 27 countries.
The announcement comes after last month the international envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, put forward a plan to end the conflict which said there would be no room for Assad in a post-revolution Syria.
Fighting in recent weeks has centered on rebel attempts to take key strategic military bases. Last week, rebels led by Islamist factions successfully captured Taftanaz air base in the north of the country. A battle is reportedly currently underway to capture the Mannagh air base in Aleppo province, near the border with Turkey.
The Syrian military is said to be preparing for an assault on Homs, Syria’s third-largest city dubbed the “capital of the revolution” by many.