Syrian opposition: 'Assad will step down in months'
Mohammed Alloush, the political leader of rebel faction Jaish al-Islam, said on Saturday that the regime has no option but to accept a political transition and that the delegation was exerting all efforts to ensure Assad's departure.
"The opposition's aim has been clear and consistent throughout the negotiations, which is to form a transitional governing body that excludes Assad and his figures," Alloush told The New Arab.
"The opposition believes in a fair political solution that is in accordance with the goals of the Syrian people. We are still committed to the ceasefire, however, the other side does not seem to agree," he added.
A source in the Higher Negotiations Committee told The New Arab that the regime's delegation at the talks proposed to the opposition - through UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura - that three representatives from the opposition will be granted full powers within the current government.
|The Geneva talks have been overshadowed fighting in Aleppo [Getty]|
On Saturday, Syria's opposition rejected the proposal from Mistura that would have kept Assad as the "figurehead" leader of the country.
Mistura made the proposal for Assad to remain in office during a transitional period to the Saudi-backed HNC, during a meeting late on Friday.
"He proposed that President Assad would appoint three vice presidents that we choose, and that he would transfer his military and political prerogatives to them," an HNC source said.
"Effectively, Assad would stay in a ceremonial position. But we categorically rejected the proposal," the source added.
The HNC and the Syrian regime delegation were in Geneva for a fresh round of talks aimed at resolving Syria's five-year war.
While the opposition insists on forming a transitional governing body without Assad - consisting of "diplomats and technocrats" - the regime claims it wants a broader "unity government" for the transitional period.
They are "sending a strong message that [the regime] doesn't want a political solution but it's seeking a military solution that will bring the destruction to the whole country", HNC representative Asaad al-Zoubi said.
The US backed the opposition's demands that there can be no peace involving Assad.
"The opposition delegation arrived in Geneva to discuss a political transition for a post-Assad Syria," US regional spokesman Jerad Caplan told The New Arab.
"Washington [...] has repeatedly emphasised that Assad has lost legitimacy and must immediately hand over power and has no place in Syria's future," Caplan said.
"The ongoing negotiations in Geneva should seek to establish a new Syria without Assad as well as stress that there is no role for Assad in Syria, and America's position on this will not change in future," he added.