President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif on Thursday met with Jean-Louis de Brouwer, Director of Humanitarian and Civil Protection Operations Civilians at the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels on Thursday. Seif is accompanied by head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab and members of the Coalition’s political committee.
Seif stressed that the mass forced displacement carried out by the Assad regime forces aimed at changing the demographic landscape in Syria constitute a war crime under international law. He stressed the need to take concrete, urgent action to ensure the safe return of the displaced people to their towns and villages.
Seif warned of a humanitarian disaster during the ongoing operation to capture Raqqa from ISIS, stressing that fighting terrorism could only be achieved through the elimination of its root cause, namely the Assad regime.
For his part, De Brouwer reaffirmed the importance of cooperation with the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government in the next phase and pointed to the need for frequent meetings between the two sides.
In addition to Seif and Abu Hatab, the Coalition’s delegation included members of the political committee Anas Abda, Hadi Bahra, and Haws Khalil as well as member of the General Assembly Ruba Haboush.
Seif is set to meet the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Friday to discuss the situation in Syria and EU support for the opposition and the Syrian Interim Government. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Nasr Hariri, head of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to Geneva talks, said that the Syrian opposition is merely testing Russia’s true intentions and conviction towards a political settlement in accordance with the Geneva 2012 Communique and the UN Security Council resolutions 2218 and 2254.
In interview with Asharq Al-Awsat published on Thursday, Hariri said that it is not possible to accept Iran as a guarantor state for the recently signed de-escalation zones agreement in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.
“One of the major reservations is that Iran cannot be considered a guarantor state, given it has long aided and abetted the regime in its destruction, mass forced displacement, and besiegement of the Syrian people,” Hariri told the London-based newspaper.
Hariri stressed that the embattled Assad regime is not serious about the whole negotiation process. “The Assad regime continue to exist by virtue of major international and regional states and in light of the international community’s continued silence and its failure to exercise pressure on the regime.”
"As the conflict entered its seventh year, there is no army, no security forces, no state, no institutions. The Assad regime barley controls 22 percent of Syria's territory. The Assad regime no longer calls the shots in Syria, but the Iranian and Russian-backed militias.”
Iran is a partner to the regime’s crimes as it has sent tens of thousands of militants to prop up the Assad regime in its war against the Syrian people, Hariri added. He stressed that the policies Iran is pursuing in Syria risk fueling tensions and increase divisions among the Syrian people and most importantly risk fueling terrorism.
Victories being achieved by the Free Syrian Army against the ISIS extremist group is not in the interest of the Assad regime, Hariri said. He added that any FSA progress against ISIS represents a victory over forces linked to the regime and its allies.
Hariri went on to say that any advances by the FSA groups against ISIS will expose the Assad regime which tries to portray itself as the only force fighting terrorism in Syria. He stressed the importance of battles being waged by the FSA against ISIS in the Yarmouk basin in southern Syria, near the Iraqi border, and in northeastern Syria.
The chief Syrian opposition negotiator harshly criticized the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“SDF units are terrorist forces— for the Syrian opposition they are no different from ISIS,” Hariri said. These militias have committed litany of violations and crimes against the Syrian people, including most notably torture, murder, mass forced displacement, and confiscation of property and land," Hariri added.
Hariri concluded his remarks by calling on the international community to support a national free force on Syrian territory which is acceptable to the Syrian people, serves their aspirations, and frees their land.
Any SDF success against ISIS will not achieve stability nor will it pave the way for a sustainable political solution, Hariri said. He underscored that SDF success are unlikely to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people as these militias are serving the interests of the PKK, not those of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)