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The Assad regime continued the burial of the Geneva “peace” process on Saturday, two weeks after talks with the opposition in Switzerland ended in stalemate.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations and a participant at Geneva, told the Syrian-American Forum that the opposition delegation was illegitimate. It “had directives from the outside” and was not “a genuine national partner”.
The discussions in Geneva — held after months of effort by the US, Russia, and the UN — never advanced because of the central dispute between the two sides: the opposition insists President Assad must step down for a transitional governing authority, while Damascus says he must stay while priority is put on confronting “terrorism”.
Al-Jaafari reasserted on Saturday, “The world must know that the issue of presidency in Syria is an internal affair that cannot be interfered, the Syrian sovereignty must be respected and President Bashar al-Assad symbolizes this sovereignty according to a political constitution approved by the Syrian people.”
Al-Jaafari highlighted the regime’s shift in strategy to emphasize local “truces” as the way forward. In recent weeks, the Syrian military and groups in insurgent-held suburbs of Damascus have agreed ceasefires.
The opposition and activists say this is the outcome of the regime’s “surrender or starve” sieges. However, Russia backed up Damascus on Saturday with a Foreign Ministry statement praising the truces and the Syrian military while denouncing the US and other countries for support of “Islamic groups”.
As al-Jaafari and Moscow were issuing their statements on Saturday, 126 people were killed, according to the Local Coordination Committees.
Of the deaths, 43 were in Aleppo Province, 18 in Damascus and its suburbs, 14 in Hasakeh Province, 13 in Daraa Province, 13 in Idlib Province, and 11 in Homs Province.
Spanish Journalist Margineda Freed After 6 Months
Spanish journalist Marc Marginedas, kidnapped in Syria on September 4, has been freed.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the release of the reporter for El Periodico de Catalunya, who was abducted near Hama.
Marginedas is currently in Turkey with Spanish officials, his newspaper said.
Video: State TV Broadcasts “Confessions” to Prove 175 Insurgents Killed in al-Otaiba Near Damascus
The public relations battle over last week’s mass killing of scores of people near al-Otaiba, outside Damascus, continued on Saturday.
State TV tried to support claims of the death of almost 175 insurgents with “confessions” of two men whom it said had survived the Syrian military’s attack. These statements established “terrorist group leaders from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were among those killed in the ambush” by a series of explosions.
The opposition has said most of those who died were civilians trying to flee sieges of villages in the East Ghouta area. In a video interview, a participant who escaped the ambush said about 40 insurgents were protecting the convoy when it was hit by 12 explosive devices.