Assad Regime & Opposition Trade Statements Over Perpetually-Delayed “Peace” Conference

On the 7th day of their offensive against regime forces near Damascus, insurgents say they have captured the town of Otaiba.

Otaiba, east of the capital, has passed back-and-forth over the last 15 months. In August 2012, it was occupied by the opposition, but President Assad’s troops reclaimed the town in April, with an insurgent warning that his side would now lose all of the surrounding suburbs in a “battle of attrition”.

The insurgency managed to hold on through the summer and autumn to most of the area of East Ghouta. Now, if confirmed — and EA is treating the news as probable — the victory will further dent the months-long blockade by Syrian forces of insurgent-held territory.

The insurgency launched its offensive with attacks last Friday on military checkpoints, reportedly inflicting large numbers of casualties over the following days.

A view of the town as opposition supporters celebrate a “great victory”:

” target=”_blank”>Further video claims a radio transmission confirming the capture.

Assad Regime & Opposition Trade Statements Over Perpetually-Delayed “Peace” Conference

Indicating yet again that a long-delayed “peace” conference is unlikely to ever take place, the Assad regime and opposition traded declarations on Wednesday.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry said that President Assad would not step aside, a pre-condition of the opposition for their participation:

The age of colonialism, with the installation and toppling of governments, is over. They must wake from their dreams. If they insist on these delusions, there is no need for them to attend Geneva II.

The official Syrian delegation is not going to Geneva to surrender power.

Ahmed Jarba, the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said, “We are now ready to go to Geneva”; however, he re-stated that the Coalition sought a “genuine democratic transformation in Syria” and re-asserted, “There is no way that the individual responsible for the destruction of the country can be responsible for building the country.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said on Tuesday that the talks would be held in Geneva on January 22.

The “peace” conference was proposed by the US and Russia in April, but has been repeatedly pushed back over the inability to get the Assad regime and the opposition to drop pre-conditions for their involvement.