The ongoing violence and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria poses the most serious challenges in the region, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said. (Agencies)
"There is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. Assad's attempts to retain power by slaughtering his citizens, gassing children, and starving civilians cannot succeed; so, there is no viable future for Syrians so long as Assad remains in power," Rice told a Washington think tank.
Rice said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's backers must realize that continued conflict will only lead to an increasingly violent safe haven for al-Qaeda and other extremists to exploit.
"And, as President (Barack) Obama said at the UN, the Syrian opposition must understand that no one benefits from a collapse of state institutions. The only way forward is through a negotiated political settlement that will end the violence and protect the rights of all Syrians," she said.
Welcoming the Syrian National Coalition's announcement that it will attend the Geneva II conference, Rice said the purpose of the conference is to implement the terms of the June 2012 Geneva Communique.
The communique calls for a political transition to a new Syria, an end to decades of rule by a single family and the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, formed on the basis of mutual consent.
"In other words, Assad must go. Yet, a political solution will not emerge spontaneously," Rice conceded, adding that that's why the US has pursued three main lines of action to address the Syrian crisis.
"First, we have worked intensively with our international partners to unify, strengthen and assist the vetted opposition in order to counter Assad as well as extremist groups. This is essential to making a negotiated solution viable," she said.
"Second, we have achieved remarkable progress in reducing the extreme threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. We cannot forget the horror of the Assad regime killing more than a thousand Syrian civilians, including hundreds of children, with sarin gas in the largest chemical weapons attack since Halabja in 1988," she said.
"In September, we adopted UN SC Resolution 2118 requiring Syria to eliminate its Chemical Weapons programme. Since then, OPCW inspectors have verified Syria's declarations on the sites and holdings of its chemical arsenal," she added.
"Eliminating Syria's chemical weapons will weaken Assad by denying him a part of his arsenal, while also strengthening the international prohibition against the use and production of chemical weapons. So, we will continue our efforts to ensure the Syrian regime abides by its commitments," she further added.
The ongoing violence and humanitarian catastrophe in Syria poses the most serious challenges in the region, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said.