December 16, 2012 / 7:37 PM / 7 years ago

Syria VP says neither side can win war - newspaper

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa told a Lebanese newspaper that neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor opposition fighters were able to win the war in Syria.

Sharaa said the situation in the country was heading from bad to worse and that a “historic settlement”, involving the formation of a national unity government “with broad powers”, was needed to end the conflict, according to comments carried by al-Akhbar newspaper.

Assad has ultimate power in Syria while Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim, has a ceremonial role in a power structure dominated by Assad’s Alawite minority. He has rarely appeared in public since the revolt against Assad erupted 21 months ago.

The comments, excerpts from a longer interview due to appear in al-Akhbar’s Monday edition, were Sharaa’s first public remarks since July last year.

Sources close to the Syrian government say he was among a group of politicians who had pushed for dialogue with the opposition and objected to the military crackdown against an uprising that began peacefully.

Assad’s government says it is fighting Islamist extremists backed by the Sunni rulers of Arab Gulf states and Turkey.

Several opposition sources say Sharaa is believed to be under house arrest, and opposition activists have announced his defection several times this year.

“With every passing day the political and military solutions are becoming more distant. We should be in a position defending the existence of Syria. We are not in a battle for an individual or a regime,” Sharaa was quoted as saying.

“All the opposition cannot decisively settle the battle and what the security forces and army units are doing will not achieve a decisive settlement,” he told the paper.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer

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