Assad vows to retake Syria, calling into question impending cease-fire

The Washington Post reports: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated his determination to reconquer all of Syria, hours before the scheduled start of a U.S.- and Russian-sponsored cease-fire Monday aimed at ending five years of conflict.

Assad’s comments, made during a visit to the Damascus suburb of Darayya, called into question whether his government will comply with the entirety of the agreement. The pact spells out a process that intends — at least according to the Obama administration — to culminate in Assad’s departure.

Under the agreement announced in Geneva on Saturday by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Syrian government and the rebels are expected to halt all fighting and bombing at 7 p.m. local time on Monday (noon Eastern time). That sets in motion a sequence of events intended to lead to new negotiations for a possible transition away from Assad’s rule.

Assad, however, made it clear he has no plans to completely stop fighting to crush the five-year-old rebellion against his regime. [Continue reading…]

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