Last updated: 3 September, 2013

Time ripe for Syria political deal, says ex rebel leader

Former Syria opposition chief, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, on Tuesday said the time was ripe to wrest a political solution while Damascus faces the threat of military action.

“A political solution is possible because this is the first time the regime is worried,” he told a group of journalists. “I say we must have a political initiative with a military action.”

Khatib, who spoke after meeting European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, headed the main opposition National Coalition from November until April and is currently exiled in Cairo.

He said a quick surgical strike would have little effect on President Bashar al-Assad. “If you don’t finish the regime he will come back again and he will consider he’s won.”

“We must push for a political initiative,” he stressed. “I don’t believe war can bring peace to people.”

Khatib said Assad’s departure was key to ending the conflict. In May he suggested granting Assad a safe exit to leave Syria while the current government was left in place to organise a transition.

The former opposition leader said he was convinced that the regime was behind the deadly August 21 chemical weapons attack even if the decision to use the arms was made by local military authorities.