Conflict & Justice

David Cameron: Bashar al-Assad could be granted safe passage out of Syria


A sign denouncing Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, is displayed at a rally of groups opposing Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012.


Mario Tama

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he would support a deal to grant Syria's President Bashar al-Assad safe passage, if it means ending the country's civil war.

Cameron would back "anything, anything, to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria," he told Saudi-owned TV station Al Arabiya.

"Of course I would favor him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done.

"I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if he wants to leave, he could leave - that could be arranged."

More from GlobalPost: Inside Syria

The British Foreign Office later clarified that London was not making Assad an offer. A spokesman told the Financial Times that it was up to the Syrian people to decide Assad's fate.

Yet Cameron's comments drew immediate criticism from rights group Amnesty International, which slammed the prime minister's suggestion as a "cosy deal" that would allow Assad to escape being held accountable for the brutalities committed by his forces.

"Instead of talking about immunity deals for President Assad, David Cameron should be supporting efforts to ensure that he faces justice, ideally at the International Criminal Court at The Hague," spokesperson Kristyan Benedict said in a statement.

Some anti-Assad activists, however, say they would be willing to make the compromise.

"We want to stop the killing. Around 150 people die every day. And they will continue to die if Assad does not leave the country," Rami Abdulrahman, founder of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the Huffington Post.

"I do want to see every criminal arrested that killed anyone, killed women, children, arrested, tortured, kidnapped. I want to see them all brought to justice, including Assad. But the longer we wait to end the violence, we are destroying Syria."

In July, the Arab League called on Assad to resign in exchange for safe passage out of Syria for him and his family. He never took up the offer.

More from GlobalPost: Who are the Syrian opposition?