US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday said that Washington sees no future for President Bashar Assad in Syria’s government, insisting “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.” Tillerson made the comments after what he called a “fruitful” discussion with U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura. De Mistura is expected to reconvene U.N.mediated peace Syrian talks in the coming weeks in the wake of recent battlefield gains by Assad’s Russian-backed forces. “The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar Assad in the government,” Tillerson told reporters. “The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and the only issue is how that should be brought about.”
The U.N.’s top envoy for Syria said that new talks between Syria’s government and opposition will start Novemeber 28 and also urged those with influence to press both sides to be ready “to negotiate substance.” Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council on Thursday that he hopes a meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on October 30-31 co-sponsored by Turkey, Iran and Russia will “prevent further unraveling of interim de-escalation and cease-fire arrangements” in Syria. He also said that it’s time to move on the political track to end the Syrian conflict and “now is the moment of truth.”
De Mistura expressed hope that Syria’s disparate opposition groups will meet in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh ahead of the eighth round of U.N.-led talks in Geneva starting November 28.