No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks at the northern part of the Tabqa dam on the Euphrates River, Syria. (Reuters)
Updated 29 March 2017
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No peace deal in Syria without US role, says opposition

GENEVA: A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition’s chief negotiator said, warning that Washington’s absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.
Lead negotiator for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohammed Sabra, said the UN-backed talks in Geneva remained “stalled.”
“There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans,” he said.
The US has a “moral duty” to throw its weight behind efforts to end the six-year conflict, he added.
Sabra warned that a deal would be impossible “if the Russians do not withdraw their (military) support for the regime.”
Sabra also reiterated the HNC’s often-repeated claim that the Syrian regime’s delegation, headed by the country’s ambassador to the UN Bashar Al-Jaafari, was “not seriously involved” in the talks.
“Until now, we don’t have a partner in these negotiations,” he insisted.
His comments came amid a fifth round of negotiations in Geneva being mediated by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
Sabra insisted that “once the transitional government is formed,” Assad’s regime would end, and he “and his clique will be referred to a fair trial” for its crimes.
Meanwhile, Syrian engineers worked on Tuesday to open spillways and ease pressure on a major dam across the Euphrates River, amid a pause in a US-backed assault to capture it from Daesh, a witness said.
The Tabqa dam is a key strategic target in the military campaign to isolate and capture the Syrian city of Raqqa, Daesh’s biggest urban stronghold.
The engineers arrived from the dam’s northern entrance which the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance captured last week. The dam’s southern reaches remain in the hands of the militants.
Work on the dam was being carried out after the regime said it had been damaged by US airstrikes and could collapse, with the risk of catastrophic flooding.
A senior Russian general accused the coalition of targeting Syria’s infrastructure — including the dam.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military’s General Staff said the coalition was trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible.”


Sudanese policeman dies from wounds after protesters stone vehicle

Updated 27 min 10 sec ago
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Sudanese policeman dies from wounds after protesters stone vehicle

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese policeman has died from his wounds after protesters threw stones at a police vehicle passing close to demonstrations in the capital Khartoum, a police spokesman said on Friday.
The vehicle was passing the area by chance late on Thursday, the spokesman said, adding that a number of suspects had been arrested.
The case brings the official death toll during protests that have spread since Dec. 19 across Sudan to 32, including three security personnel. An opposition-linked doctors’ syndicate said last week that 57 people had been killed in the protests.
“The vehicle was pelted with stones, and they were police returning from training and had no link to the dispersal of the unrest,” said police spokesman Hashem Ali.
Security forces dispersed protests close to the presidential palace in Khartoum on Thursday, rounding up several dozen of them and driving them away in pick up trucks, witnesses said.
On Friday police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people who protested after leaving a mosque in Omdurman, across the Nile from central Khartoum, witnesses said.
The protesters had blocked a road with stones and branches chanting, “Down, that’s it!,” “Freedom, peace and justice,” and “The people’s choice is revolution.”
The protests were triggered by a deepening economic crisis and have become the most sustained popular challenge to President Omar Al-Bashir since he took power in a coup nearly 30 years ago.
The president and his ruling National Congress Party have shown no sign of bowing to demands to quit and have blamed the unrest on unnamed foreign agents.