Rebels, troops battle for key Damascus highway
Members of the opposition criticized al-Khatib’s offer to talk to the regime, and the government flatly rejected it.
Late Friday, al-Zoubi said Damascus was ready for dialogue with the opposition so long as the rebels lay down their weapons. He said anyone who responds will not be harmed.
The initiative is unlikely to gain any traction among the Syrian opposition and fighters on the ground, a highly decentralized force with weak links to the political leaders that deeply distrusts the regime. Most groups are unlikely to stop fighting so long as Assad remains president.
In Cairo, al-Khatib met with international peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss the opposition leader’s initiative for talks with the Assad regime, according to a U.N. statement. The statement said the envoy ‘‘reiterated his support for (al-Khatib's) initiative and encouraged the coalition to continue in this direction.’’
Brahimi’s efforts to stop the fighting in Syria have failed so far, leaving the international community at a loss for ways to end the civil war.
Associated Press writer Zeina Karam and Aya Batrawy in Cairo contributed to this report.