UK & World News
Assad 'Is At Stalemate And Wants Ceasefire'
Bashar al Assad's forces are at a stalemate with rebels and the government will soon call for a ceasefire, Syria's deputy prime minister has said.
Speaking on behalf of the Government, Qadri Jamil told The Guardian that neither side was strong enough to win the two year conflict.
"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."
He added that the Syrian economy had lost about $100bn (£62bn) during the war, which has killed more than 100,000 people.
Mr Jamil said a ceasefire would be called for at a long-delayed conference in Geneva.
However, leaders of the armed opposition have repeatedly refused to go to what it called Geneva Two unless Mr Assad resigns.
His comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry said "It is a fact" Mr Assad was responsible for August's chemical weapons attack in Damascus.
He said a UN report was "unequivocal" in its conclusion that the sarin gas attack bore the trace of the regime.
Last week the US and Russia hammered out a deal for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons, which America, France and the UK now want enshrined in a United Nations resolution.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he cannot be 100% certain that Syria will carry out its commitments to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles.
"Will we be able to accomplish it all? I cannot be 100% sure about it," he told a news conference.
"But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us confidence that this will happen ... I hope so."
Mr Putin, who has been Mr Assad's staunchest ally, said he had strong grounds to believe the chemical attack outside Damascus on August 21, which is believed to have killed 1,400 people, was staged by opponents of the Syrian government.