Syrian opposition seeks removal of "criminal" Assad in talks

by Reuters
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 14:37 GMT

GENEVA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - A senior member of Syria's opposition group the National Coalition, said on Tuesday it would demand the removal of "criminal" President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking on arrival in Switzerland ahead of peace talks, Badr Jamous, secretary-general of the National Coalition and member of its negotiating team, told Reuters: "We are here to fight a diplomatic battle to achieve the objectives of the Syrian revolution and the desires of the Syrian people.

"We will not accept less than the removal of the criminal Bashar al-Assad and changing the regime and holding the murderers accountable."

Referring to images purportedly taken by a Syrian military police photographer that appeared to show the systematic torture and killing of thousands of detainees, Jamous said: "The images that we saw in the last few days indicate that this regime does not deserve less than being sent to stand trial in front of the International Criminal Court."

Jamous planned to meet U.N. officials ahead of the ministerial conference opening in Montreux on Wednesday, which will be followed by direct negotiations with the Syrian government in Geneva on Friday.

The talks have been given little chance of success in ending Syria's civil war. Assad says the only subject to discuss should be fighting terrorists, the label he uses for his armed opponents. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Mike Collett-White)

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