President of the Syrian Coalition, Riad Seif, said that the Syrian opposition agree Bashar al-Assad must leave, noting that the upcoming Riyadh conference will strengthen the position of the opposition in the upcoming round in Geneva talks.
The Syrian opposition meeting in the Saudi capital will assess the performance of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), and review the negotiating mechanisms, Seif told the Turkish Anadolu news agency on Friday.
Seif stressed that the Syrian opposition is decisively settled for the position that Bashar al-Assad must go. The opposition will not waver, he said, adding that most participants in the Riyadh gathering support that view. He said that the conference would come out with a clear vision for the opposition.
"Our goal is to put an end totalitarianism in Syria once and for all and build a state of law and justice. We extend our hands to those who share this view with us.”
Seif expressed concern that the upcoming round of negotiations in Geneva will end in failure. "UN-sponsored negotiations have been ongoing for four years. The Assad regime has not yet shown any readiness for a political solution.”
"If the situation continues like this, there will be no point in any negotiations or any conference," Seif said. He added: “We participate so that the ranks of the opposition are unified, not to produce a fake opposition or one that is not committed to swerving the interests of the Syrian people."
When asked about the Coalition’s position of the Sochi conference, Seif said: "The Coalition categorically rejected the Sochi conference as it is saw no need for such a conference. If the Russians want to support a political solution, they can exert pressure on the Assad regime to participate in the Geneva negotiations.”
With regards to calls by countries on the Syrian opposition to take international changes into account and act rationally and realistically, Seif said: "We have recently heard these two words, rationality and realism. But reason and logic say that if a criminal committed crimes against his own people and displaced it and used chemical weapons against it, he must be deposed and be brought to justice."
He added: "Is there a sane person who says that Bashar al-Assad has the right to rule a people against their will. If every criminal is given advantages to avoid his evil, this will encourage people to do evil and murder. This clearly contradicts any sense of realism and rationality.”
Saif expressed surprise that Assad’s fate and role in the future of Syria and transitional period remains the deciding factor in the Syrian issue. He stressed that the world must make a moral, human and rational decision that Bashar al-Assad’s rule must come to an end and that he must step down. “Assad’s departure is key to resolving the conflict in Syria,” he added.
With regards to the joint statement that was issued following the meeting between the US and Russian presidents in Vietnam last week, Seif said: "The statement has not put forward a clear political solution. We need an international will, especially by Russia and the United States. There is an exchange of interests and we understand it, but it should be accepted by the Syrian people. The two countries must agree on a political solution that does not contradicts the goals of the Syrian people."
“The joint statement authorizes Putin to find a solution, but solution chosen by Putin will unquestionably be designed to keep Assad, grant him legitimacy to rule, and help him survive in power.”
Seif went on to say that the ‘de-escalation zones agreement’ does not serve a political solution as Russia, a guarantor of the agreement, continues to bomb civilians. Seif cited the airstrikes that Russia launched on the town of Atareb few days ago and which killed dozens of people as well as the continued shelling on eastern Ghouta. He emphasized that a political solution is "to abide by the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and the relevant UN Security Council resolutions." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
An official in the Syrian Coalition said that the UN Security Council’s failure to extend the mandate for the panel investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria is "a dark chapter in the history of humanity."
In response to Russia’s vetoing of the draft resolution calling for the extension of the mandate for the UN-OPCW investigation panel, Ahmad Ramadan, director of the Coalition’s Media Department, said: "It is a disgraceful day in the history of humanity that the UN Security Council failed once again to redress thousands of victims of chemical weapons in Syria or hold war criminals accountable."
The Russian veto triggered condemnation by the majority of the UN Security Council member states. The United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said: “The message to anyone listening is clear: in effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said the Russian veto was a blow to international efforts to curb the use of chemical weapons. "Let there be no doubt: We have unleashed a monster here," said Delattre.
UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said that Russia has "failed as a supposed supporter of peace in Syria."
It was Moscow's 10th such veto of UN resolutions condemning the Assad regime and demanding accountability for war crimes in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.
Ramadan added: "We are both sad and angry at the fact that Russia, a permanent member at the UN Security Council and which claims to be a guarantor of agreements in Syria, is using the veto for the tenth time to shield the Assad regime; enable it to escape punishment; and block the course of justice.”
“The Russia decision risks undermining the foundations of international justice; serving terrorism and the terrorists’ narrative; and establishing the law of the jungle. It also confirms the failure of the international system in the protection of international peace and security," Ramadan added.
The latest report of the UN-OPCW’s joint Inquiry concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for the use of the banned sarin nerve agent in attacks on rebel-held areas, including the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)