UK
20/09/2013 07:40 BST

Syria Will Change, But Western Leaders Must 'Get Off Our Shoulders', Says Assad Deputy

President Bashar Assad's reign of terror will now longer continue along the same path, but the Western world must now "get off our shoulders", Syria's deputy prime minister has said.

Qadri Jamil told the Guardian, on behalf of the Syrian government, that neither side was capable of defeating the other and a stalemate had been reached.

But he accepted that any ceasefire would have to be kept "under international observation".

syria violence

Neither side is capable of defeating the other, says the Deputy PM

"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.

"Let nobody have any fear that the regime in its present form will continue. For all practical purposes the regime in its previous form has ended. In order to realise our progressive reforms we need the west and all those who are involved in Syria to get off our shoulders."

Asked what proposals his government would make at the forthcoming conference in Geneva, Jamil said: "An end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."

Jamil claimed the report by UN weapons inspectors into the use of chemical weapons in Damascus was "not thoroughly objective" and could not be sure it was perpetrated by Assad.

This week, Oxfam suggested many large countries are contributing just a tiny fraction of their "fair share" of cash needed to deal with the consequences of the crisis - but Britain is contributing over-and-above the call of duty.

The aid agency singled out governments which have been prominent in the diplomatic battle over Syria for failing to play their part in tackling the refugee crisis - including Russia and France.

The UK is contributing around £400 million. In its own report, released on Thursday, Oxfam concluded that while some of the raw numbers from countries like the US may be impressive, the contributions as a ratio of a country's total economy often don't amount to much.

The UN's £3 billion appeal for money for Syria, the largest in its history, remains just 44% funded three months after it was launched. Other international appeals are also struggling, with Oxfam 61% short of its £30.7 million target.

It is thought more than 100,000 people have been killed and seven million Syrians displaced.

Nick Clegg said Britain will look to press other countries at the United Nations next week to provide more money to ease the Syrian humanitarian crisis.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who leads the UK delegation to the UN's general assembly in New York, warned not enough cash is being sent to the region to help the millions of people displaced and "traumatised" by the conflict.

Clegg said the conflict has inflicted "incalculable" physical, mental and psychological traumas.

Speaking to non-governmental organisations in London last night, Clegg said: "There is just not enough money being mobilised to deal with the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

"We have sought to take a lead. We are the second largest donor of humanitarian assistance, funded from the public purse, in Syria.

"(Prime Minister David Cameron) was very active on this in the recent G20 summit in St Petersburg, we've allocated another £50 million or so bringing the total of our humanitarian assistance to around £400 million.

"We are looking to other countries to increase their provision and their support as well, so we cannot only get the right means through access, not only the right focus - particularly on children - but also the right resources to help play a role... to do our best to provide humanitarian assistance to those millions and millions of people who have been displaced and traumatised by the conflict."

Clegg said he wants to "really hammer home" the focus on children.

He said: "The knock-on effects, the shadow which will be cast long into the future by the physical, mental, psychological traumas being inflicted on children now I think are incalculable and they need to be at the very heart of our thinking as we try and provide humanitarian assistance and help to this war-ravaged country."