Western diplomatic sources confirmed to al-Hayat that "the US administration does not mind supporting a military escalation in Syria, but it wants a clear political-military plan for the next stage (following the departure of President Bashar al-Assad)".
The diplomatic sources said President Barack Obama's administration listened to proposals from Turkish and Arab officials to "establish a buffer zones”, or provide air cover for troops that are trained and equipped in cooperation with the Pentagon. The Obama administration showed "openness towards the proposals", but requested a "complete political-military plan for the post-Assad stage". The sources noted that Washington would be willing to support its allies if they presented a plan that deals with "Assad's departure while maintaining the structure of the Syrian institutions, ensuring the rights and protection of minorities while providing a political solution that prevents a long-term militia war in Syria, as is the case in Libya".
Washington's demands coincide with shifts on the ground in Syria, following the progress of the military opposition in the northwest of the country, closing the ring around Damascus and the regime stronghold of Lattakia.
Speaking in Paris, General Coordinator for the National Coordination Commission Hassan Abdul Azim said (following a meeting with US envoy Daniel Rubinstein and French envoy Franck Gile) that the Commission will support the efforts of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, whom Abdul Azim will meet in Geneva on May 9 or 10. Abdul Azim noted the role of the French envoy in the mediation between the Coordination Commission and the Syrian National Coalition. While Abdul Azim referred to the postponement of the opposition conference which was scheduled in Cairo, al-Hayat learned that another conference will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, between May 23 and 26.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer