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Anti-Assad group threatens to withold support without "political transition"

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By Tokunbo Salako  with REUTERS
Anti-Assad group threatens to withold support without "political transition"

The Friends of Syria group has warned President Bashar al Assad that it wont support the country’s reconstruction unless there a political transition from his rule.

The alliance of mainly Western and Gulf Arab countries met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

It comes as the crisis in Syria, now in its seventh year, appears to be less urgent with greater attention on North Korea’s nuclear tests and the fate of Iran’s atomic deal

After the talks, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “We believe that the only way forward is to get a political process going and to make it clear to the Iranians, Russians and
Assad regime that we, the like-minded group, will not support the reconstruction of Syria until there is such a political process and that means, as Resolution 2254 says, to a transition
away from Assad.”

The U.N. Security Council has adopted a Syria transition road map through a Geneva-led process.

President Assad has largely strengthened his position thanks to Russian and Iranian support. According to Moscow, Syrian government troops have now crossed to the eastern side of the Euphrates river near Deir ez-Zor.

Operations resumed at the city’s military airport on Monday, the first time in nearly a year. It comes a month after the Syrian army retook control of the facility from Islamic State militants.

The Syrian army and U.S.-backed militias are engaged in separate battles against Islamic State fighters in the province, the jihadist group’s last major stronghold in Syria.