A recent poll carried out by France’s Le Figaro newspaper has indicated that at least 72 percent of respondents want Syrian President Bashar Assad to remain in power.
The survey, published on Thursday, asked: “Should world powers demand Bashar Assad to leave?” At least 28 percent from 21,314 respondents have voted “Yes” so far, while the majority – 72 percent – have said “No”.
The poll was conducted ahead of the Vienna talks, where 19 global powers gathered to find a solution for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The fate of Assad remained the stumbling block during discussions.
The US and its allies including Saudi Arabia repeatedly said the Syrian president, whose term expires in 2021, must resign.
“There is no way President Assad can unite and govern Syria,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said during the meeting, adding, “Syrians deserve a different choice.”
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Syrian people “should define the future of their country… including Assad’s fate.”
Earlier in October, a member of Moscow’s parliamentary delegation told TASS that Assad had agreed to hold preliminary elections in the country, provided the move has the people’s backing.
Syria has been caught up in a civil war since 2011, when violent protests erupted as part of the so-called Arab spring. During the turmoil, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) militants managed to capture large amounts of territory in Syria and Iraq.
On September 30, Moscow launched a military operation targeting IS positions following a formal request from Assad.