Members of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee met with representatives of countries of the Friends of Syria group in Istanbul on Thursday to discuss the outcome of the first round of the Geneva 4 talks and latest developments in the political process.
The meeting mainly discussed the briefing presented by the UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to the UN Security Council on Wednesday on the latest round of talks in Geneva. Abdul-Ahad Steifo, Vice-president of the Coalition participated in the meeting.
Member of the political committee Nasr Hariri stressed that the HNC delegation has seriously engaged in the talks in Geneva out of its realization of the need to achieve a political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolutions. He also stressed that any solution must ensure that the aspirations of the Syrian people are met.
Hariri, who is also head of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to Geneva talks, pointed out that the HNC’s delegation will discuss details of the political transition, the fight against cross-border and state terror, a new constitution, and free and fair elections after a political transition has been achieved and a transitional governing body put in place with full powers.
Hariri noted that the Assad regime is still seeking to evade seriously engaging in negotiations with the aim of clinging to power and continues to escalate attacks on the Syrian people. He also said that the Assad regime will always seek to sabotage efforts aimed at achieving a transition towards a free and democratic state.
Hariri warned of the regime’s attempts to undermine the political process through stonewalling and engaging in endless discussions. He called upon the United Nations to take concrete action to force the Assad regime to engage into serious negotiations and stop evading its obligations.
For their part, representatives of the Friends of Syria group praised the performance of the Syrian opposition in the latest round of negotiations and its positive cooperation with the United Nations to discuss the implementation of international resolutions, particularly UNSC resolutions 2118 and 2254.
The representatives reaffirmed continued support for the struggle of the Syrian people to gain freedom and dignity and to build a democratic state in which the rights of all citizens are guaranteed. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) continues to forcibly recruit children to war in northern Syria. Activists have recently published photos showing children dressed in military uniform and carrying weapons with badges bearing the insignia of the PYD on their left arm.
Recruitment of children is a war crime under international law and international humanitarian law.
The IRT news network published photos of child soldiers in the ranks of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, an armed group that is dominated by the PYD.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Hakim Bashar has accused the PYD and its affiliated militias of carrying out terrorist acts, including "the abduction and recruitment of children." He called for holding these militias accountable for the war crimes they are committing in Syria.
Militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) continue to engage in repressive practices against political dissidents and activists in northern Syria. PYD militias have detained about 42 members of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) in the areas under their control over the past two days.
Bashar said that these practices violate the values of democracy and freedom and are aimed at silencing all dissident voices.
Last week, the PYD militias raided the offices of the Kurdish National Council in the towns of Qamishli and Afrin and set them on fire. They also detained many of its members.
Bashar said that the PYD militias assaulted dozens of women and beat them with clubs while they were celebrating the International Women's Day and prevented such celebrations in all areas under their control, except those organized by the militias themselves.
Human Rights Watch in mid-2015 said that the PYD is still not meeting its commitment to demobilize child soldiers and to stop using boys and girls under 18 in combat, adding that many of these child soldiers were killed in combat. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Activists said that five civilians were killed and many others injured in regime airstrikes on the town of Kafranbel in rural Idlib on Thursday. The Syrian Coalition said that the Assad regime crimes against the Syrian people continue unabated despite the ceasefire.
Activists said that regime fighter jets bombed the area close to Alarbien Mosque and Fadel Khatib School in the center of Kafranbel. They published photos and videos showing massive destruction to civilian homes and shops caused by the airstrikes.
Rescue workers said the death toll is likely to increase as the casualties included many serious injuries.
In its daily report on the violations of the ceasefire agreement, the Syrian Coalition said that regime forces have lately escalated military operations in many areas across Syria. It recorded at least 52 truce violations by regime forces on Wednesday, resulting in the death of 11 civilians, including women and children.
The report also recorded truce violations by the Russian forces which carried out airstrikes using internationally banned weapons including vacuum bombs and the white phosphorus. The most violent airstrikes hit rebel-held areas in southern and western Aleppo in preparation for a ground attack by regime forces and Iranian-backed militias.
The latest truce violations by regime forces and their allies came a few days before an upcoming meeting on Syria due to be held in the Kazakh capital Astana on March 14-15. The meeting is aimed at discussing ways to bolster the ceasefire, ensure humanitarian access to the besieged areas, and secure the release of detainees. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)