BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s opposition chief demanded Bashar Assad’s regime release all female political prisoners or he would scrap his offer of talks with the government.

Mouaz al-Khatib of the Syrian National Alliance said the women must be released by Sunday. He spoke in an interview with BBC’s Arabic service late Wednesday.

Al-Khatib said the release of the women should be the beginning of the release of all Syrian political prisoners. He says Syria is holding 160,000 people over the uprising. It’s unclear how many are women.

The government has ignored al-Khatib’s offer for talks. Officials have previously said any dialogue must begin without preconditions.

Al-Khatib’s offer, which came last week, sparked criticism from opposition activists who say the regime has killed too many people to play a role in the conflict’s solution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.