Pencilneck sez refugees welcome to return. Really.
Persistent violence and the moribund peace plan offered by President Bashar Assad, now backed up by the appeal to refugees and his political opponents to return, has underlined the intractable nature of the 22-month civil war that has killed more than 60,000 people and left the international community at a loss to find a way to end the bloodshed.
More than half million Syrians have fled to neighbuoring countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey during the 22-month civil war. They include opposition activists and defectors, including army officers, who have switched to the rebel side, fighting to topple Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than four decades.
The state-run SANA news agency said the government will help hundreds of thousands of citizens return whether they left "legally or illegally." Syrian opposition figures abroad who want to take part in reconciliation talks will also be allowed back, SANA reported on Thursday.
If they "have the desire to participate in the national dialogue, they would be allowed to enter Syria," SANA said, citing an Interior Ministry statement.
The proposed talks are part of Assad's initiative to end the conflict that started as peaceful protests in March 2011 but turned into civil war. Tens of thousands of activists, their family members and opposition supporters remain jailed, according to international activist groups. The opposition could not immediately be reached to comment the appeal. Its representatives have repeatedly rejected any talks that include Assad.
Posted by: Steve White 2013-01-26