The American and British defense secretaries say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cannot remain in power despite his recent victory in the city of Aleppo.
Speaking at a joint press conference on Thursday, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Assad had no place in Syria’s future and he should step down before peace returns to the country.
“We don’t see a future for President Assad in Syria,” he said, claiming that the Syrian president could not lead “a country that you only control 40 percent of.”
“On the contrary we continue to look for a political settlement in Syria that is genuinely pluralist,” he added.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter echoed Fallon’s view, saying he was looking forward to a “political transition” to end the conflict, which began in March 2011 and has killed over 400,000 Syrians.
“Political transition is the only way that the suffering of the Syrian people can finally be brought to an end,” he said.
The comments came shortly after Assad congratulated his nation on the liberation of Aleppo following a weeks-long battle with support from Russia.
Less than a month ago, the Syrian army started a wholesale push to drive the militants out of their stronghold in the city’s eastern side, making great strides in the process.
The victories angered the US, Britain and France, who claimed that the Syrian government targeted civilians in eastern Aleppo.
On Thursday, Carter accused Russia of supporting “incredible brutality” in the Aleppo battle, saying that such measures were “in stark contrast to the way we conduct ourselves in Iraq and Syria.”
The US has been leading a so-called coalition that claims its has been targeting Daesh (ISIL) militants in Syria since 2014.
However, the coalition fighter jets have on several occasions targeted Syrian and Iraqi forces combating the terrorists.
The US has also refused to explain why a significant amount of weapons and equipment airdropped over some Syrian cities have ended up in the hands of terrorist groups.
Carter and Fallon spoke to the press after meeting with the other members of the coalition.