US urges UN action, Syria sees stalemate

US urges UN action, Syria sees stalemate
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

WASHINGTON - The United States called Thursday for a binding UN resolution on Syria's chemical weapons next week, as a senior Syrian official said the country's conflict has reached a stalemate.

A "definitive" UN report has proved that the Syrian regime was behind an August chemical weapons attack, US Secretary of State John Kerry said. "Now the test comes. The (UN) Security Council must be prepared to act next week. It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out," he added.

Syria's deputy premier, meanwhile, said Damascus believes the conflict has reached a stalemate and would call for a ceasefire if long-delayed peace talks in Geneva were to take place.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Qadri Jamil told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

When asked what his government would propose at the stalled Geneva-2 summit, he replied: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process."

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview Wednesday with US television network Fox News, insisted his country was the victim of infiltration by foreign-backed Al-Qaeda fighters.

"What we have is not civil war. What we have is war. It's a new kind of war," he said, alleging that Islamist guerrillas from more than 80 countries had joined the fight.

The president's television appearance came as UN envoys debated a draft resolution that would enshrine a joint US-Russian plan to secure and neutralize his banned chemical weapons.

Assad insisted in the interview that his forces had not been behind an August 21 gas attack on the Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of civilians, but vowed nevertheless to hand over his deadly arsenal.

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