Syrian vice president says army can't win

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BEIRUT — Syria’s vice president has acknowledged that the army cannot defeat the rebel forces trying to topple the regime and called for a negotiated settlement to save the country from ruin.

The rare, candid comments by Farouk al-Sharaa, a longtime close aide to President Bashar Assad’s family, suggested his embattled regime may be contemplating an exit strategy as rebel forces move closer to the capital Damascus. He spoke in an interview published today by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

Al-Sharaa pushed for a negotiated political settlement that includes the formation of a national unity government with wide jurisdiction.

His comments coincided with a step-by-step peace plan for Syria outlined by Iranian officials on Sunday. It would be capped by Syrian elections that presumably could usher in a new leader in Damascus.

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