The Syrian Coalition called upon friendly countries to support the establishment of a unified national army to be made of the revolutionary armed groups forming an integral part of the international coalition against terror.
The Coalition on Friday held a press conference at the headquarters of the Secretariat in Istanbul, Turkey, to define its position on the latest political and field developments in Syria.
Head of the Coalition’s media department Ahmed Ramadan said: “The grave and unfortunate developments that have recently taken place in Idlib province did not come as a surprise given the conspicuous lack of sufficient support for the Free Syrian Army groups and the failure to empower the Syrian people through their legitimate political institutions to establish a unified national army.”
Urging the opposition’s armed groups to unify, Ramadan said: “The latest developments in Idlib province have put the opposition armed groups in front of a national responsibility to unify into a single national army whose primary task is to defend the liberated areas from the attacks of the Assad regime forces and their allies and to liberate the areas under the control of terrorist groups.”
The Coalition welcomed the de-escalation zones agreements reached recently in eastern Ghouta and the southern front. It stressed the need for monitoring mechanisms to ensure full implementation of these agreements.
“These agreements must lead to a halt to the bombardment and a full ceasefire on the entire Syrian territory,” Ramadan said. “These steps must be carried out in parallel with the immediate activation of the political process through direct negotiations in Geneva to address the fundamental issue, which is political transition.”
Ramadan condemned the blatant intervention of the Hezbollah militias in the Qalamoun area and their laying sieges on several towns and villages in the area in an attempt to force local residents out of their homes.
“These actions are aimed at serving Iranian plans to bring about a demographic change in the area, which includes large areas of Rural Damascus,” Ramadan went on.
Moreover, Ramadan called for a unified Arab and international position to ensure the withdrawal of all terrorist militias from all Syrian territory. He urged the Lebanese government to take the necessary measures under international supervision to prevent the crossing of elements of these militias from Lebanon to Syria to commit crimes and fight alongside the Assad gangs against the Syrian people.
With regards to the upcoming meetings in Geneva and Astana, Ramadan said that the Astana process is facing a “fundamental challenge, which is the number of agreements reached, signatories, and guarantors involved, especially as most of the parties refuse to accept Iran as guarantor.”
The Geneva process has not yet risen to the level of the "political process,” Ramadan added. “The Geneva process has so far taken the form of dialogue among the parties and the UN envoy and his team. Even the technical consultative mechanism, which is a non-binding mechanism, is being discussed by the opposition and the UN team.”
“It is surprising that the United Nations accepts the negative participation of the delegation of the regime. It is also surprising that the UN views the mere participation of the regime delegation as an achievement, thus departing from the real substance and content of the Geneva process.”
Ramadan concluded his remarks by emphasizing that the continuation of the Geneva process without achieving tangible progress, and especially given the continued military escalation by the regime and its allies and their attempts to resolve the conflict militarily, has hampered the process, undermined popular confidence in it, and sapped the required momentum behind it.
“It is widely believed now that the regime and its backers are exploiting the process to give the impression of engaging in a political process which they have emptied of any substance or meaning.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
More than 1,300 civilians have so far been killed in Raqqa city as battles to capture the city from ISIS have intensified. According to the United Nations, at least 200,000 people have fled the city since April 1.
Local activists said that over 40 people were killed on Thursday after international anti-ISIS coalition jets carried out multiple airstrikes on central Raqqa. Civilian homes inside the city have been subjected to shelling by heavy artillery and guided missiles by the militias of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Moreover, at least 36 civilians were killed on Wednesday by heavy international coalition airstrikes and artillery fire by SDF targeting the city.
Raqqa city has come under constant bombardment for nearly 50 days by the International coalition and the SDF militia. According to figures compiled by the Syrian Coalition’s media office, a total of 1,342 civilians have so far been killed while hundreds more, half of them women and children, have been injured as a result of the heavy bombardment.
Meanwhile, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller told the UN Security Council in a video briefing from Amman, Jordan on Thursday that more than 200,000 civilians have fled their homes in Syria around Raqqa city since April 1. The number included over 30,000 who were displaced in July, Mueller added.
In a press conference held on Friday, the Syrian Coalition strongly condemned attacks on civilians, saying that it deeply regretted the death of civilians at the hands of the International anti-ISIS Coalition.
The Coalition called for an end to attacks on civilians, launching transparent investigations into attacks that have led to the deaths of hundreds and possibly thousands of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.
The Coalition underscored that residents of Raqqa must be allowed to fully administer their province through an elected local council under the supervision of the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and with the participation of civil society. It stressed that the city should be administered independently from foreign interference and the influence of extremist forces that do not adhere to the guiding principles of the Syrian revolution and its goals. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)