President Bashar al-Assad must be involved in any peaceful solution to the war in Syria, said the United Nations envoy to Syria, according to various media reports.
Assad is “part of the solution for the reduction of the violence,” UN Envoy Staffan de Mistura said in Vienna Friday.
“I am not talking about a final solution,” de Mistura told Reuters. “That is something that only the Syrians, if you had asked me, would have to decide upon. The main point was he is part of the solution in reducing violence.”
Speaking during a press conference in Vienna alongside Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the UN official said, “I will continue to have very important discussions with him.”
“The only solution is a political solution,” he later added. Not finding a solution to the conflict in Syria will only benefit the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS), said the envoy.
ISIS, which has conquered swaths of Iraq and Syria, is a “monster waiting for this conflict to take place in order to be able to take advantage,” added de Mistura.
The Austrian foreign minister acknowledged that “in the fight against IS it can be necessary to fight on the same side,” but he stressed that “Assad will never be a friend or even a partner.”
In a recent interview with BBC, Assad said his regime maintains “no dialogue” with the U.S.-led coalition that began bombing ISIS targets in Syria last September. He denied any wrongdoing in the ongoing Syrian conflict. In particular, Assad denied bombarding civilians in rebel-held areas with the indiscriminate use of “barrel bombs.”
John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, believes Assad’s removal is essential to defeating ISIS. The Obama administration supports Assad’s removal but has not taken any official action to overthrow the Syrian leader.
Meanwhile, Assad’s government has been fighting against rebels, ISIS, and other jihadists.