Former Syrian Prime Minister Slams So-Called Ceasefire

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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A leader of the Syrian opposition fighting Bashar al-Assad spoke out against Thursday’s pseudo-ceasefire proposal, claiming that it is the government and its Russian supporters who should be taking the first steps toward peace.

Farid Hijab, who served as prime minister of Syria in 2012 and currently serves on the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), did not offer any hope for a potential ceasefire in the ongoing conflict Sunday. He said that as long as Russian bombing of rebels continued, the likelihood of a peace accord within the week was unlikely.

“You ask me if I accept a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities. I ask you: Why is the onus on the opposition and whether it has preconditions for negotiations?” Said Hijab to the Associated Press, “I would like to see a single day of a cessation of hostilities in order to give a chance for real political movement.”

Hijab did not confirm whether or not the HNC would be willing take the next step toward an actual ceasefire, but he did have plenty of criticism for what he believes is the inaction of the international community and the false attempts at peace put forward by Russia.

“We have gotten used to conferences and words put into hope, but what we need is action — and the action that I see is that Russia is killing Syrian civilians,” said Hijab.

The U.S., Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed Thursday to a “cessation of hostilities,” with the hope for a full ceasefire within the week. Noticeably absent from the negotiation were the HNC and representatives from Assad’s government, the main belligerents in the now 5-year civil war. Also absent from the accord was an agreement on the part of Russia to cease air strikes on key rebel-held areas, like the city of Aleppo.

Hijab’s comments come the same day as a phone conversation between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Obama urged Putin to cease air strikes in the country. Russian Prime Minister Sergei Medvedev confirmed over the weekend that Russia would not cease its attacks.

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