Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ahad Steifo stressed the need to abide by the timetable set out by international resolutions on the achievement of political transition in Syria.
Steifo, who is also a member of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to the Geneva talks, referred to a lack of commitment to a specific timetable for negotiations during the previous round of negotiations in Geneva.
Paragraph 4 of the UN Security Council resolution 2254 stated that negotiations should begin in January 1, 2016 and end after six months. The negotiations were to be followed by an 18-month long transitional period but that was not the case, Steifo said.
Steifo pointed out that the credibility of international community will be at stake if it allows a repetition of what happened during the Geneva 3 talks. For the Syrian people, time is blood, he stressed.
The opposition will continue to press for the enforcement of international resolutions calling for the start of political transition, adding that the agenda of Geneva 4 must focus on bringing about political transition to ensure building a free, stable state based on the values of justice and the rule of law.
The HNC delegation will remain in Geneva to discuss the political transition process despite ongoing attempts by the Assad regime to derail negotiations, Steifo added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Salem Meslet, spokesman for the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), called on the United Nations to invite Syria’s civil defense, known as the "White Helmets," to be honored in Geneva where the fourth round of peace negotiation is being held. He said the White Helmets deserve to be honored for their role in saving the lives of civilians.
A film documenting the struggle of the White Helmets won the Oscar for best short documentary on Sunday.
“We are delighted to see a film about the White Helmets win an Oscar award, but we believe they are worthy of greater honoring as they risk their lives to save civilians. Many members of the search and rescue groups have lost their lives while digging people from under the rubble of bombed buildings,” Meslet said.
The 40-minute Netflix film, directed by British documentary-maker Orlando von Einsiedel, follows volunteers as they conduct search and rescue operations in Aleppo and undergo training in Turkey.
Raed Saleh, leader of the rescue group, was not be able to leave his work to attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles because of the high intensity of air strikes by regime forces on the rebel-areas in the provinces of Damascus, Dara’a, and Homs.
“The Oscar award highlighted the crimes the Assad regime and its allies are committing against the Syrian people,” Meslet said. He criticized the reluctance of the international community to explicitly condemn these crimes.
If the United Nations is serious about honoring those who are saving lives, it should invite the White Helmets to Geneva to be honored and to facilitate the issuance of visas to them, Meslet stressed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The opposition’s negotiation delegation to Geneva talks conveyed a message from the local council in the besieged town of Madaya in Rural Damascus to the UN envoy to Syria Satffan de Mistura expressing the grievances of the people of Madaya.
In a teleconference between members of council and members of the opposition’s High Negotiation Committee (HNC) on Monday, the conferees stressed the need for the HNC to press the United Nations to enforce its resolutions on Syria, most importantly the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged towns and cities, the lifting of the sieges, and the release of detainees.
Members of the local council pointed to the severe shortages of food and medical supplies in the town, leading to diseases among the civilians trapped inside such as kidney failure and kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein–energy malnutrition. An estimated 350 people have developed this disease, which is caused by insufficient intake of protein and the food being limited to dry beans.
The town of Madaya is home to about 40,000 people who suffer a crippling siege by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias. At least 280 people have died since the beginning of the siege nearly three years ago. Moreover, 12 people have been killed in attacks by regime forces and the Hezbollah militias or died due to lack of medical supplies since the truce took effect in December 29, 2016. Around 200 more have been injured.
During the teleconference, the HNC spokesman Salem Meslet assured members of the council that their message to the United Nations will be delivered, stressing that the HNC delegation is in Geneva to discuss political transition needed to restore stability and security to all parts of Syria.
The mission of the opposition’s negotiating team is to defend the demands of the Syrian people and help achieve their aspirations, Meslet said. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad regime is seeking to derail negotiations in Geneva, the Syrian opposition said. The opposition stressed that head of the regime’s negotiations delegation, Bashar Jaafari, has not come to Geneva to discuss any political solution.
Salem Meslet, spokesman for the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), wondered how the Assad regime talks about fighting terrorism while it is the primary sponsor of terrorism.
If Russia is serious about making the negotiations succeed, it has to put pressure on the Assad regime to agree to a political solution in Geneva, Meslet stressed. Meslet noted that Russia has great leverage on the Assad regime as its direct military intervention in Syria saved it from falling and helped it recapture Aleppo.
The first step that must be taken to make the negotiations a success is to discuss the formation of a transitional governing body, elections, and the constitution, he said.
Meslet expected that the Trump administration’s position on Syria will be different from that of its predecessor, especially as the US has appeared to adopt a tougher stance on Iran which is an accomplice in the crimes of the Assad regime against the Syrian people.
The Syrian opposition has certain fundamental demands and principles that it will not waive under any circumstances, Meslet said. He appointed out that blood of half a million people killed by the Assad regime cannot be ignored, stressing the need to achieve the demands of the Syrian people at any cost despite the many obstacles facing the political process. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Al-Quds Al-Arabi)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Hakim Bashar stressed that the Syrian Kurds are fully represented in the ranks of the opposition, adding that the rights of the Syrian Kurdish population cannot be regained as long as the Assad regime remains in power.
Bashar said he was not optimistic about achieving a breakthrough in the current round of negotiations in Geneva due to the lack of a clear American position and vision for or a solution in Syria as well as the Assad regime’s tactics to scupper the negotiations.
The Assad regime has always sought to sabotage negotiations as it is fully aware that to engage seriously in any political process would mean the beginning of the end, Bashar added.
The Assad regime which has killed over half a million people; displaced 12 million; and detained hundreds of thousands of Syrians will not give up easily unless it is put under real pressure from the international community, Bashar added. He noted that the absence of an active US role has so far resulted in dire consequences for the Syrian people and the revolution.
Bashar emphasized that the political and military battles fought by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) against ISIS in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor have nothing to do with the Kurdish issue. He also said that Turkey is a friend of all the Syrian people contrary to what the PYD, which is the Syrian wing of the PKK, says. He said that Turkey currently hosts over 3 million Syrian refugees, including 300,000 to 400,000 Kurds who mostly fled the oppression of the PYD militias and are living in safely in Turkey, unlike the Kurds living in areas controlled by the PYD militias. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + The New Arab)
Military escalation against rebel-held areas by the Assad regime and its Russia and Iranian allies continues unabated, especially in the provinces of Dara’a, Damascus and its countryside, and Alwaer district in Homs despite the start of a new round of negotiations in Geneva.
Members of the Syrian opposition delegation to Geneva and members of the local council in Alwaer discussed the dire situation in the besieged district at a teleconference held on Saturday afternoon. The district has been subjected to intensified bombardment by regime forces and allied militias for the past few days.
During the teleconference, which was organized by the Syrian Coalition, the two sides agreed on continued consultation and coordination to convey the grievances of the besieged population in Alwaer to the international community.
Member of the Syrian Coalition Khaled Khoja said that the Assad regime has always escalated violence and its mass forced displacement operations during negotiations. He appointed out that such an escalation is taking place with the backing of Russia which claims to be a guarantor of the ceasefire agreement.
Khoja, who was speaking from Geneva on Saturday, said that the Assad regime is stalling for time and rendering talks in Geneva irrelevant.
“We cannot not talk about a real, genuine negotiating process, but about a management of a political process in which the regime uses its own terms to describe things. This is the result of the indecisiveness of the international resolutions themselves," Khoja said.
Local activists said they documented the death of at least 43 people in brutal bombardment and military operations by the Assad regime and its allies on Friday. They added that they recorded no fewer than 50 breaches of the truce by the Assad regime forces and their allies on Friday. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The opposition’s negotiation delegation to Geneva talks met with representatives of countries of the Friends of Syria group on Friday evening to discuss the negotiating process and prospects for political transition in Syria.
Yahya Qadamani, Deputy General Coordinator of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), commended the continued support by the countries of the Friends of Syria group for the opposition’s negotiation delegation and the Syrian people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity.
Nasr Hariri, head of the opposition negotiation delegation, confirmed the opposition is ready to engage in serious negotiations leading to the achievement of a political transition as was set out by international resolutions.
Hariri said the meeting with the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura was positive, and that the opposition has submitted “clear and specified” suggestions to the UN envoy.
De Mistura handed the Syrian opposition delegation a paper about the procedural issues and some ideas to begin the political process, Hariri said. He said the opposition will study the paper and outline its response within the next couple of days.
For their part, representatives of the Friends of Syria group praised the positive response of the opposition delegation towards the current round of Geneva talks. They stressed the need for the opposition to continue with its positive position about the negotiating process which the regime is trying to undermine. They also reaffirmed their role as key supporters for the political transition process in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Hakim Bashar stressed that the opposition will seek to make political transition in accordance with international resolutions the main focus of the current round of negotiations in Geneva.
Speaking from Geneva on Friday, Bashar said that the opposition’s delegation will meet with the UN envoy to Staffan de Mistura later on Friday to discuss the agenda of the current round of the talks.
Bashar said the opposition delegation will call on de Mistura to press the Assad regime to commit to the basis of the political process as well as to put political transition as set out in international resolutions, particularly the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and the UNSCR 2118 and 2254, on top of the agenda of the talks.
Bashar, who is also a member of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said that de Mistura and his team should take into account the latest reports by the UN and human rights groups condemning the Assad regime’s the use of chemical weapons and the mass executions against thousands of detainees in the Saydnaya Prison and other detention centers.
In response to remarks by the UN mediator on the drafting of a new constitution during the opening ceremony on Thursday, Bashar said that such issues could be discussed after a political process has been initiated and a genuine political transition put in place. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Nasr al-Hariri, head of the opposition's negotiating delegation to the Geneva talks, said that the talks must focus on political transition in Syria as all UN resolutions on Syria had political transition at their core.
In a press conference following the opening ceremony of the new rounds of talks that began late on Thursday in Geneva, Hariri pointed out that the ball is now in the court of the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura and the United Nations, urging them to assume a positive role as sponsors of negotiations.
Hariri called on the UN envoy "to stick to the first item in the agenda which is a political transition that is acceptable to the Syrian people," adding that UNSCR 1254 stressed the Syrian people's right to choose their representatives in any peace talks. He noted that the Syrian people agreed to one delegation that is represented by the High Negotiations Committee (HNC).
Hariri criticized the international community's silence over the daily crimes that have been committed against the Syrian people for nearly six years, stressing that the Assad regime's only goal is to hold to power at the expense of the Syrian people, both the opposition and his supporters.
Hariri noted that Russia is trying to circumvent the international resolutions on Syria and discredit the Syrian opposition and that it continues to support the Assad regime. Moreover, Russia has so far failed to control the Assad regime or even rein in the militias fighting on Assad's side.
On Iran's blatant interference in Syria, Hariri stressed that Iran represents the biggest obstacle to reaching political deals in the region. Tehran has invested politically, militarily and on the security level in Syria as it has deployed tens of thousands of sectarian militants to prop up the Assad regime.
Hariri called for a real and intensive international efforts to make the talks a success, urging the US to assume a bigger and positive role to deal with Iran's interference in Syria and to help reach a just political solution that puts an end to the suffering of the syrian people.
"Bashar Al-Assad could remain in power only in one case; if the Syrian people accepted this, which is extremely unlikely as the Assad regime has been killing and displacing innocent civilians since the start Syrian revolution. "(Source: Syrian Coalition's Media Department)
The Free Syrian Army fighters have seized control of the key town of Albab northeast of Aleppo from the ISIS extremist group as part of the Turkish-backed Operation Euphrates Shield offensive.
A commander of an FSA group taking part in the offensive said that the FSA fighters were now clearing mines and explosive devices laid by ISIS in the town.
The announcement of the liberation of Albab came hours after the FSA groups have captured all the strategic points in the center of the town, most notably the security complex, ISIS’s biggest and most heavily defended bastion.
The town of Albab, roughly 40 km northeast of Aleppo city and 30 km south of the Turkish border, is the last major ISIS stronghold in Aleppo province. It was home to about 200,000 people before it fell to ISIS in January 2014.
In August 24, 2016, FSA groups launched Operation Euphrates Shield to clear ISIS and other terrorist groups from territory south of the Turkish border with Syria with support from Turkish military forces and in coordination with the international anti-ISIS coalition. (Source: Syrian Coalition's Media Office)