Clinton: Rebels must prepare to govern

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Syrian rebels are gaining ground and will eventually control swathes of territory, but president Bashar al-Assad still has time to negotiate an exit, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

Speaking as if military victory by the Syrian opposition was an inevitability, Mrs Clinton told reporters yesterday that it was now time to plan the “day after”, urging the rebels to think through how they may govern the country and how to prevent sectarian reprisals.

She said: “We have to work closely with the opposition because more and more territory is being taken and it will, eventually, result in a safe haven inside Syria which will then provide a base for further actions by the opposition.

“We do believe that it is not too late for the Assad regime to commence with planning for a transition, to find a way that ends the violence by beginning the kind of serious discussions that have not occurred to date.”

She added that among the challenges the opposition must prepare for are creating governing entities, protecting Syria’s chemical weapons, and committing to protect the rights of all Syrians should Mr Assad’s regime fall.