President Bashar al-Assad said it would not be difficult to agree on a new Syrian government, including opposition figures, but his opponents reject the plan. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~**Broadcasters: NO ACCESS Digital: NO ACCESS SYRIA AUSTRALIA BROADCASTER WEBSITES. NO ACCESS ABC AMERICA, FOX, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO, BBC AMERICA, NBC, OR THEIR DIGITAL/MOBILE PLATFORMS.** This is the scene of victory for President Assad in Syria. Syrian forces recaptured the ancient town of Palmyra-- a historic world heritage site reduced to rubble in many areas by Islamic State. The government forces backed by heavy Russian air support drove Islamic State out of Palmyra Sunday, inflicting what the army called a mortal blow to militants who seized the city last year. Now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian television that he is still waiting for congratulations. (Arabic) SYRIAN PRESIDENT, BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE CONTINUES OVER SEVERAL SHOTS OF KISELYOV INTERVIEWING ASSAD) "This news was not understood well. Some people understood it but didn't believe it and now two days after freeing Palmyra city a number of countries that are supposed to be fighting terrorism have not announced a position on liberating Palmyra, especially France and the UK. We haven't heard any comment from them." Assad told Russia's RIA new agency that it would not be difficult to agree on a new Syrian government including opposition figures. White House spokesman Josh Earnest rejected the plan. WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN JOSH EARNEST SAYING: "I don't know whether he envisioned himself being a part of that national unity government. Obviously that would be a nonstarter for us," Syria's crisis erupted five years ago with protests against Assad which were put down with force. It descended into a civil war which has killed more than 250,000 people.