Church leaders from Syria, Russia, the US, UK, France, Germany and Turkey have called for a political solution as the only way to peace in Syria. They met the UN Secretary General and his Special Envoy to Syria on the same day that Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister said that the civil war has reached stalemate with neither side strong enough to win.

Qadri Jamil told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that Damascus would call for a ceasefire with the armed opposition at further proposed peace talks in Geneva. However, his party has said the paper had misquoted him, and that he was saying the end of external intervention ‘would effectively be a ceasefire’. Commentators say this ‘personal view’ may be a way for the Assad government to test international reaction.

The church leaders’ statement says talks are urgent and crucial: “We believe there can be no military solution to the crisis in Syria. It is time for the international community to assume its responsibility to end the violence and initiate a political process that brings peace for all the people of Syria…[Globally], churches must continue to raise their voice in their congregations, in their societies and with their governments. We must strengthen the public outcry so that those in power will protect the common interest of humanity.”