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'Syria ceasefire requires change'
12 Feb 2016 22:10
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Europe is a "direct cause" of Syrians fleeing their homeland and must stop "giving cover to terrorists" before people return.
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In an interview to AFP, Assad called on European governments "which have been a direct cause for the emigration of these people ... to help in making Syrians return to their country".
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He also said he supports negotiations to end his country's conflict, but insisted he would not stop fighting "terrorism".
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He said: "We have fully believed in negotiations ... however, if we negotiate, it does not mean that we stop fighting terrorism. The two tracks are inevitable in Syria.
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Assad said he rejected the United Nations recent accusations that his regime is guilty of war crimes, calling the claims "politicised".
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The UN lambasted his government for "exterminating" prisoners in its jails and detention centres, but when speaking to AFP, Assad said that the accusations "serve a political agenda ... and do not provide any evidence."
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Russia must change for Syria ceasefire - Britain
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Earlier, Britain's foreign minister said a deal to end fighting in Syria requires a "change in behaviour" from the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia to succeed.
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At crisis talks in Munich, Germany, over Syria's civil war, world powers agreed to implement a "nationwide cessation of hostilities" beginning in a week's time.
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"If implemented fully and properly ... this will be an important step towards relieving the killing and suffering in Syria," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.
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"But it will only succeed if there is a major change of behaviour by the Syrian regime and its supporters."
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Mr Hammond cautioned that Assad ally Russia "claims to be attacking terrorist groups and yet consistently bombs non-extremist groups including civilians.
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"If this agreement is to work, this bombing will have to stop: no cessation of hostilities will last if moderate opposition groups continue to be targeted," he said.
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