No talks unless we get arms: Syrian opposition

Washington, June 9 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Syrian opposition will not agree to take part in the proposed peace conference unless its forces get new weapons, a top opposition military commander said.

"If we don't receive ammunition and weapons to change the position on the ground, to change the balance on the ground, very frankly I can say we will not go to Geneva," Free Syrian Army commander Gen. Salim Idris told the New York Times in a phone interview.

"There will be no Geneva."

"What can we ask for when we go very weak to Geneva?" he went on.

"The Russians and the Iranians and the representatives of the regime will say: 'You don't have any power. We are controlling everything. What you are coming to ask for?'."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in May after a Moscow meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry that the two countries had decided to hold an international conference aimed at facilitating a solution through political dialogue to the Syrian crisis.

More than 80,000 people have died in Syria since fighting broke out between government forces and rebels in March 2011.

The conference is designed to be a follow-up to last year's international meeting in Geneva that drafted a peace roadmap for Syria.

The Syrian government said it was ready in principle to take part in the conference. The Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces have refused to participate.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

pm/vt

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