Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim called on the United Kingdom to support the Geneva negotiations to bring about a political solution in line with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolutions 2118 and 2254 calling for the establishment of a transitional governing body without Assad or his inner circle.
Hakim was speaking during a meeting with political officer Tom Shepherd and Nebras Hassan from the British consulate in Turkey. Shepherd praised the plan of action outlined by the new presidential body.
The two sides discussed the latest political and field developments, especially the sixth round of talks that began today in Geneva, Switzerland.
"British support for the political solution is very necessary in view of its influential role and its weight as a superpower,” Hakim said. The meeting was also attended by members of the Coalition’s political committee Salah Hamawi and Safwan Jandali.
The two sides stressed the importance of greater cooperation and coordination among the Syrian opposition institutions, pointing to the important role played by the United Kingdom in supporting the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian revolution since its early days.
The meeting also stressed the fact that the Coalition should take the lead role in delivering humanitarian assistance to those in need across Syria through its executive arms, namely the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) and the local councils.
The next upcoming meeting between the two sides will focus on the humanitarian issues and the support provided by the British government in the areas of civil defense, education, local councils, and the free police force.
Hakim noted that the Coalition’s new plan of action needs support from all friends of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Members of the Syrian Coalition and the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) on Tuesday held a teleconference with leading figures in the district of Barzah in eastern Damascus who confirmed that the Assad regime is committing war crimes against civilians in the rebel-held district, the latest of which is the forced displacement of the residents in the district.
The HNC meeting with the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura in Geneva will focus on humanitarian issues and forced displacement, Suhair Atassi, member of the HNC delegation to Geneva talks, said.
The besiegement and starvation of the population by the Assad regime and the Iranian militias constitute war crimes and violate international law and international humanitarian law, Atassi added.
HNC spokesman Salem Meslet said that the HNC delegation to Geneva talks is seeking to highlight war crimes being committed by the Assad regime against civilians, especially the forced displacement and demographic change operations.
"Mass forced displacement is a war crime and we will highlight it. The HNC delegation is seeking to bring this issue, along with all humanitarian issues, to the forefront of discussion in Geneva,” Meselet added.
Abu Aljoud, director of civil defense in Barza, said that residents of the ravaged district continue to insist on overthrowing the Assad regime and demand freedom, dignity and democracy. He added that they all reject extremism, calling on the international community to protect them from the sectarian militias the Assad regime has brought from many countries in the region.
Abu Aljoud pointed out that nearly 50,000 civilians still live in Barzah, stressing the need for the implementation of international resolutions and calling for lifting the sieges and introducing humanitarian aid to besieged towns and cities.
Abu Aljoud emphasized that displacement of the residents of the district is being carried out through coercion, denying claims that residents are willfully leaving their homes. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim will travel to the South Korean capital Seoul to participate in an international conference on non-traditional threats in Asia and the Pacific region which begins on Wednesday. The conference will discuss the threat of chemical and biological weapons in conflict.
The importance of the Coalition’s participation stems from the need to highlight the threat imposed by the Assad regime’s repeated use of unconventional and prohibited weapons such as sarin, chlorine gas, the white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and incendiary napalm bombs.
The crimes carried out by the Assad regime continue unabated for over 6 years as a result of the failure of the international community to deter the Assad regime and force it to stop the use of chemical and internationally banned weapons.
On April 4, the Assad regime used the sarin nerve agent in an attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rural Idlib, killing about 100 and injuring 400 others. The attack proved that Assad continues to retain chemical weapons despite claims it handed over all its stockpile of chemical weapons under a US-Russian brokered deal in 2013. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
Head of the opposition High Negotiations Committee’s (HNC) delegation to Geneva talks Nasr Hariri stressed that time has come to hold to account perpetrators of atrocities in Syria as the Assad regime continues its war against the Syrian people, now in its seventh year.
"The world must act to stop human rights violations in Syria," Hariri told reporters in Geneva as a fresh round of talks between the opposition and the Assad regime began on Tuesday.
The dossier of human rights violations will be present in the current round of negotiations, Hariri said.
Hariri’s remarks came in response to reports by the US States Department that it has evidence that the Assad regime had set up a crematorium to dispose of bodies of detainees at Sednaya prison.
The United Nations has repeatedly received reports of “atrocities being committed in Syria,” which makes the issue of accountability a “critical one,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday.
Asked if reports about the presence of a crematorium in Sednaya prison could ramp up the UNSG concern, Dujarric pointed out that the UN General Assembly had already voted to put forward an accountability mechanism for violations in Syria.
Amnesty International reported in February that an average of 20 to 50 people were hanged each week at the Sednaya military prison north of Damascus. Between 5,000 and 13,000 people were executed at the facility between 2011 and 2015, According to Amnesty’s report. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
The Syrian Coalition condemned the crime of mass forced displacement of civilians in the eastern districts of Damascus including Barzah and Tishreen and most recently from the district of Qaboun which is now being emptied of its local population.
In a press release published on Monday, the Coalition said that the mass forced displacement of civilians violates international law and constitutes a crime against humanity.
No party has the right to conclude, justify, or recognize any agreement involving mass forced displacement, the Coalition stressed.
The Coalition pointed out that the continued mass forced displacement operations by the Assad regime contradict the requirements of the implementation of the Astana “de-escalation” agreement signed by the guarantors. They also expose the real objective behind all steps and agreements being furthered by Russia and Iran which represent only a means to kill and displace more Syrians and to prop up the Assad regime against the Syrian people who are demanding freedom, the Coalition added.
The Coalition held the international community responsible for the regime’s ongoing policy of mass forced displacement of civilians in the eastern suburbs of Damascus and all other areas under siege as well as the constant aerial and artillery bombardment in Syria.
The barbaric tactics being deployed by the Assad regime and its backers is a direct result of the failure of the international community to put an end to continued mass forced displacement, murder, destruction, and besiegement that have been ongoing for over 6 years in Syria, the Coalition said. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif and members of the political committee visited the office of the Syrian Islamic Council in Istanbul, Turkey and met the President of the Council Sheikh Osama Rifaie and members of the Board of Trustees.
The two sides agreed on the need for greater cooperation and coordination among all institutions of the Syrian revolution to advance the cause of the revolution and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.
“We need your efforts and support as we are seeking to work with all the revolution institutions to add more impetus to the revolution,” Rifaie said. “There are millions of Syrians who are waiting for the institutions of the revolution to meet their daily needs and alleviate their suffering in light of the daily killings, siege, displacement, and detention by the Assad regime.”
Seif stressed the importance of maintaining popular support for the revolution, pointing out that this requires a "sensible and rational leadership." He suggested that the next phase would see the incorporation of new active elements into the Coalition as part of the Coalition’s strategy to introduce reforms so that it can carry out its tasks much more effectively.
Seif also stressed the need to for national projects aimed at introducing reforms. He said: "We count on the brothers in the Islamic Council for cooperation in this regard."
For his part, Sheikh Rifaie congratulated the new presidential body for gaining the confidence of the Syrian Coalition as he wished them success in their work. He also stressed the importance of the Syrian Coalition constituting “the political backbone of the Syrian revolution."
Rifaie stressed the need for all Syrian institutions to work with the Coalition. “We need bridges of communication that can be turned into coordination mechanisms so that we close ranks and end fragmentation." Rifaie expressed hope that the meeting will be the beginning of sustained communication and coordination between the two sides in the service of the interests of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)