Truces between the Syrian government and rebels only benefit Damascus, the leader of one of the largest insurgent groups in the war said in comments broadcast on Saturday, in which he also criticized a recent opposition meeting as a “conspiracy.”
The remarks by Abu Mohamad al-Golani, head of al Qaeda’s Syria wing Nusra Front, came after the implementation of a truce deal in Waer, the last insurgent-held area of Homs city, between the local government and insurgents.
“Truces are the first step to surrender and take place only in the interests of the regime,” he said in comments to reporters broadcast on opposition-affiliated Orient News TV.
It was not immediately clear when the recording took place. Golani’s face was digitally obscured.
Under the Waer deal, fighters who rejected the terms and some civilians were allowed to leave and humanitarian aid was allowed in. Nusra Front fighters were among those who rejected the ceasefire and left.
A senior United Nations official told Reuters this week the Waer ceasefire was a good model to build on and could help promote a nationwide truce in the nearly five-year conflict that has killed 250,000 people. U.N. officials were present when fighters started to leave Waer last week.
Golani also criticized a Saudi-hosted Syrian opposition conference held last week as “a conspiracy”.
“Whoever went to the conference does not have the ability to implement things on the ground,” he said.