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Syria

Damascus sees stalemate in Syrian civil war

Syria's deputy prime minister has hinted at a possible ceasefire in the country's civil war, now approaching two and a half years. The comments come as Damascus slowly bends to the will of the international community.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil indicated Damascus' willingness to halt fighting if long-awaited peace talks took place. Efforts earlier this year to bring both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and the Syrian opposition together in Geneva failed amid disagreement over setting preconditions for the meetings.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Deputy Prime Minister Jamil told Britain's the Guardian newspaper in an article which appeared online late Thursday.

The armed conflict has left over 100,000 people in Syria dead and has driven roughly 2 million Syrians into neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Egypt. The vast majority of refugees have fled the war-torn country since September 2012.

A chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21 prompted US threats of launching a limited military intervention in Syria. However, a last-minute proposal by Russia for Assad to relinquish his stockpile of chemical weapons has provided a temporary solution to the diplomatic crisis.

While President Assad has vowed to comply with the United Nations and to destroy his regime's chemical arms arsenal, some leaders remain skeptical of the promise. US Secretary of State John Kerry called on the United Nations on Thursday to pass a binding resolution on Syria's chemical arsenal by next week.

The UN has since published a report confirming the use of sarin gas in the attack, but did not identify the culprit, as that task did not fall under its mandate. The US, France and Great Britain have said the evidence points to Assad, but the Syrian president has rejected these allegations.

The Syrian deputy prime minister told the Guardian on Thursday his government - which has bristled at outside efforts to intervene - would seek its own solutions to bringing the armed conflict to an end if given the opportunity in Geneva.

Damascus would propose "an end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way," Jamil said.

kms/jm (AFP, Reuters)