France’s Le Drian Says ‘Can’t Build Peace With Assad’ in Syria

A Syrian woman walks past a placard bearing a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad.

Photographer: Louai Beshara/AFP via Getty Images

Islamic State will eventually be defeated in Syria and after that world powers will re-focus on seeking a political solution that must lead to the departure of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

“Right now there are two wars, a war against Daesh and a civil war,” Le Drian said on RTL Radio, using the preferred French term for Islamic State. “Once Daesh is defeated there will be only one war, and there won’t be the question of how we handle the combat against our principal enemy, which is Daesh.”

Le Drian said regional and world powers will have to create a “contact group” to establish a calendar for writing a new Syrian constitution and holding elections. The French foreign minister wouldn’t be drawn into the timing of Assad’s departure, but said he couldn’t stay on at the end of the process.

“The transition can’t be done with Bashar al-Assad, who has massacred his people,” Le Drian said. He also said re-opening the French embassy in Damascus “is not on the agenda.”

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