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Monday, October 26, 2015, Kartik 11, 1422 BS, Muharram 12, 1437 Hijri

'Eradicating terror' will produce political deal
Says Assad; he is willing to eventually hold parliamentary and presidential elections and ready to run for president
Published :Monday, 26 October, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 18
DAMASCUS, Oct 25 : Syria needs to eradicate "terrorism" to find a political solution to end the country's war, embattled President Bashar al-Assad told a visiting Russian delegation on Sunday, state media reported.
"The eradication of terrorist organisations will lead to the political solution that Syria and Russia seek and that will satisfy the Syrian people and preserve Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," state news agency SANA quoted Assad as saying.
His comments came during talks with a Russian parliamentary delegation visiting Damascus just days after Assad went to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.
Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad is willing to eventually hold parliamentary and presidential elections and is ready to run himself for president, a Russian lawmaker told AFP from Damascus on Sunday.
The announcement is expected to anger Western-backed moderate rebels as well as Washington and its allies who say there is no future for Assad in post-conflict Syria.
Some of his opponents say he should step down during a transition, while others insist on his immediate resignation.
Russia, which is one of the main backers of the Assad regime, says it is up to the Syrian people to decide his fate.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said his country is ready to support the Free Syrian Army
FSA) with air strikes and cooperate closely with the US in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group and other factions.
The calls for cooperation came after at least 44 people, including six children, were killed in 24 hours due to Russian and Syrian air strikes across the country, particularly in Idlib province, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) reported on Saturday.
Syria's western-backed opposition on Saturday rejected a Russian offer to assist them against the Islamic State jihadist group and dismissed Moscow's call for new elections.
"Russia is bombing the Free Syrian Army and now it wants to cooperate with us, while it remains committed to Assad? We don't understand Russia at all!" said Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Saoud, a spokesman for the Division 13 rebel group.
After the unannounced talks, Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry agreed in Vienna on Friday to explore new ways of trying to reach a political settlement.
Syria last held presidential elections in June 2014, with Assad re-elected for a seven-year term with 88.7 percent of the vote.
The election was dismissed by the opposition and condemned internationally.
The country last held parliamentary elections in May 2012, and it is in theory due to hold its next legislative vote in 2016.
Russia and the West have been at loggerheads over Assad's fate, a major sticking point in efforts to solve a crisis that has killed more than 250,000 people since 2011 and sparked an exodus of around four million refugees. ?AFP

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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