x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Assad will fall but Syria conflict may not end, former UN observer warns

The fragmented rebellion, which remains militarily weaker than the regime, is still engaged in the fight of "David versus Goliath".

OSLO // The former head of the UN observer mission in Syria, Robert Mood, said Friday that President Bashar al-Assad's fall was only a matter of time but that his exit might not end the conflict.

"Sooner or later, the regime will fall," said the Norwegian general, whose mandate to lead a 300-strong misson ended last week amid a sharp spike in violence.

"The spiral of violence, the lack of proportion in the regime's reactions, its incapacity to protect the civilian population, mean that the regime's days are numbered, but will it fall in a week or in a year? That is a question I do not dare answer," he told AFP.

The fragmented rebellion, which remains militarily weaker than the regime, is still engaged in the fight of "David versus Goliath," Mood said, adding that any rebel success may not necessarily mean the end of the conflict.

"Many think that if Bashar al-Assad falls or that if he is given an honourable exit... the problem will be solved. That is an over-simplification one should be wary of," Mood told a news conference.

"The situation could even get worse," he cautioned.

"On the other hand, it is important to say that it is impossible to imagine a future Syria with the current power holders still in place."

Mood has been replaced by Senegalese Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who has taken over a drastically reduced mission with just 150 observers and a mandate of only 30 days.