A delegation of the Syrian Negotiations Committee headed by Nasr Hariri concluded a visit to the Russian capital Moscow which came at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The visit came as Russia continues its military campaign in Syria, seeking to translate its outcome politically.
The delegation met with Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian lower house of parliament's international affairs committee as Hariri presented a detailed explanation of the Syrian issue which differed from the viewpoints adopted by many Russian officials.
At the end of the meeting, the two sides expressed mutual understanding that commitment to the implementation of international resolutions, especially UN Security resolution 2254 and supporting the Geneva process are the only way to reach a just, peaceful solution in Syria. Such a solution has to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people and translate their will into building a safe, democratic state that is free of tyranny, foreign militias and occupation.
The first day of the visit also included a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and officials of the Russian ministries of foreign affairs and defense. The meetings sides reached positive results as the two sides agreed to continue serious communications for the success of the upcoming Vienna meeting and to revive the Geneva process. They also agreed to devote all efforts and political initiatives in the context of the search for a political solution in Syria.
Hariri focused on the humanitarian issues, pointing out that they should not be subjected to negotiations. Concerning the situation in eastern Ghouta and Idlib, Hariri noted that the past three months have seen unprecedented bombing, destruction, displacement and sieges imposed by the Assad regime and its militias.
Hariri emphasized the Russian role in Syria and the need for Russia to commit to the agreements it signed off on. Views of the two sides were divergent about the conference due to be held in Sochi. The Russian side said they understood the Commission’s position which reaffirmed committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254.
On the second day of the visit, the Commission’s delegation met with the ambassadors of the Arab countries to Moscow and concluded the visit with a visit to the Orthodox Church in Moscow.
During the meeting with the Arab ambassadors to Russia, Hariri stressed that "Syria is at a crossroads." He underscored the need to implement international resolutions on Syria to save it and save its people from the consequences of ignoring the ongoing massacres being committed against the Syrian people.
Deputy-Head of the Commission Khaled Mahameed urged the Arab ambassadors to support the Syrian cause and the Syrian people, stressing that "Syria has never given up any of the Arab countries."
Mahameed called on the Arab countries to "express a united stance towards stopping the crimes and massacres that are taking place in Syria and support the path of negotiations to reach a political solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people and restores security and stability to the entire country." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A delegation of the Syrian Negotiations Commission headed by Nasr al-Hariri, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian capital Moscow on Monday and discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria.
Lavrov began the meeting by welcoming the delegation of the Commission as he said he looked forward for a meeting with a unified delegation of the Syrian opposition. He praised the Commission’s efforts to make the political process a success in accordance with international resolutions.
Lavrov said his country was committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254, noting that Moscow’s primary goal was to support the UN-led Geneva process and reach the desired goal.
For his part, Hariri thanked Lavrov, describing the meeting as important given that Russia is a major player in the Syrian issue. He added that the meeting came in the context of the efforts to serve the interests of the Syrian which will always remain the guideline for all the Commission's activities. He also said that the meeting aimed to reaffirm commitment to the implementation of UN resolutions and engagement in the negotiating process as well as to expose the failure of the regime and its obstruction of the political process.
"Our adoption of a political solution stems from our keenness to defend the Syrian people inside and outside Syria as well as to establish a non-sectarian, free, pluralistic, democratic, civil state that is based on the rule of law and enjoys security and stability and one that has good relations with its neighbors and seeks to protect civilians," Hariri said.
In the meeting with Lavrov and representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry, Hariri focused on the humanitarian issues, pointing out that they should not be subjected to negotiations, namely the release of detainees, the lifting of the sieges, and the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need.
Hariri pointed out that the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and subsequent relevant resolutions called for the establishment of Transitional Governance Body (TGB) with full powers and one that is credible and inclusive. As was outlined in UN Security Council resolution 2254, TGB’s primary task is to create an appropriate and neutral environment for the success of the transitional phase as well as the convening a national dialogue conference, the holding of a referendum on the drafting of a constitution, and the holding of free and fair elections.
Turning to the fight against terrorism, Hariri said that "terrorism is the enemy of the Syrian people as it cost them thousands of lives. Hence, a national contract needs to be established to combat all forms of terrorism that affect the safety of the country and civilians." He added that the Syrian people and the Free Syrian Army were the most affected by terrorism and the first to counter the terrorism which was practiced by tyrannical regime and the terrorism of the extremist militant groups.
As for ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement, Hariri pointed out that the agreement had collapsed because of the violations of the Assad regime, the Iranian militias and terrorist groups. He stressed that “for us, the lives of Syrians are our top priority."
As for the situation in eastern Ghouta and Idlib, Hariri stressed that the past three months have seen unprecedented bombing, destruction, displacement and tightened siege imposed by the Assad regime and its militias.
Hariri also pointed to the Russian role in what is happening in Syria and the need for Russia to commit to the agreements it signed off on. Regarding the Sochi conference, Hariri pointed out that the information being circulated about the conference is vague and ambiguous and that there were dozens of statements that were issued by local councils, rebel groups, and Syrian political bodies rejecting the conference in addition to the popular outright rejection of the Russian move.
He pointed out the Commission will not make any final decision regarding the Russian initiatives until it receives full and clear information from Russia that the Sochi Conference is meant to serve the main political course in Geneva. The Commission will then discuss the matter with its international partners, Hariri said, adding that the Commission is guided by the interests of the Syrian people and take their voice into consideration for the making of decisions.
In the four-hour meeting, Lavrov responded to Hariri's remarks by saying that the Russia position did not contradict the Commission's vision for the full implementation of UNSC Resolution 2254. "We look forward to the full implementation of resolution2254,” Lavrov said.
Both sides discussed the proposed Sochi conference. The views of both sides on the issue were divergent. But the Russian side said they understood the position of the Commission which insisted on the implementation of resolution 2254.
For their part, members of the Commission’s delegation cited a number of obstacles to a solution of the Syrian crisis, most notably the need for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and militias from Syria.
The two sides agreed to continue serious communications for the success of the upcoming Vienna meeting and the revival of the Geneva process as well as for directing all efforts and political events in this direction in the context of finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition called on the international community to take action to put an end to the use of chemical weapons in Syria and hold those responsible accountable as a meeting bringing together 30 countries began in Paris today to establish a new partnership against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Russia killed an investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) after it had vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions preventing the renewal of the mandate for the mission.
The Syrian Civil Defense Corps, also known as the White Helmets, said that Assad regime forces targeted populated areas in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta with rockets loaded with poison chlorine gas on Monday. The attack caused dozens of asphyxiation cases among civilians in the district of Douma, the Civil Defense said, adding that most of the injured were women and children.
The Syrian Coalition said that the “repeated failures over the past years, coupled with the negative role of most parties, are to blame for the current situation on the ground in Syria. It called upon the United Nations and active players exert real pressure corresponding with the situation on the ground to prevent further bloody escalation.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Coalition said: “such violations are no longer only a challenge to the international community and Security Council resolutions, but they have become more like an insult to those parties which are unable to carry out their duties or shoulder their responsibilities.”
The Coalition condemned the “repeated, systematic, deliberate use of chlorine gas by regime forces as it warns of the consequences of remaining silent about these attacks. Remaining silent risks encourage the Assad regime to escalate these attacks.”
The Coalition went on to say that “the Assad regime and its supporters will not change their criminal behavior, nor will they stop violating international resolutions through the use of chemical weapons and the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity unless they pay heavily for their actions.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition expressed its support for the operation being launched with the participation of the Syrian National Army, which incorporates armed groups of the Syrian revolution under the supervision of the Syrian Interim Government, with the aim of freeing a number of towns and villages of the Syrian north from the control of terrorist forces in coordination with Turkey and with support from Turkish air force.
In a press release issued on Sunday, the Coalition said that it “has repeatedly called upon terrorist organizations, including the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), to withdraw its militants from Syria and pull out of the towns and villages they occupied and from which they displaced their residents as well as to stop using the Syrian people as fuel for its terrorist, reckless wars.”
“Over the past few years, however, cross-border terrorism has expanded in Syria’s north and east, taking advantage of the emergence of the ISIS extremist group and of the Assad regime’s support and its provision of an enabling environment for these groups,” the Coalition added.
“The PKK terrorist group and the front organizations it uses, including the Democratic Unionist Party (PYD), the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the repressive security agencies, are terrorist organizations. They have been carrying out repressive practices against the Syrian people from all affiliations and ethnicities. They imprison many Kurdish activists in particular, while hundred others died under torture in their prisons or in direct attacks targeting them.”
The Coalition stressed “those organizations as hostile to the revolution of the Syrian people with all their components and their aspirations for freedom, justice and equality. It is imperative, therefore, that these organization be eradicated and their danger removed from Syria and the region.”
“The Syrian National Army’s fight against armed terrorist organizations is a fundamental part of its struggle against the tyrannical regime and its allied Iranian terrorist organizations. This fight has won the support and appreciation of all Syrians who want to see security, peace, freedom and dignity prevailing in their country.”
The Coalition went on: “The Syrian people are united in their struggle against tyranny and terrorism. They appreciate the high level of coordination and support being provided by Turkish leadership and the Turkish armed forces for the battle to free Afrin and Manbij as well as the rest of towns and villages which are occupied by terrorist groups. All measures are being taken to provide maximum protection for civilians and to prevent terrorist organizations from using them as human shields.”
The Coalition stressed “the importance of taking the necessary measures to protect the civilian population and infrastructure as well as to enable around 250,000 Syrian civilians who were forced out of their homes by the PKK terrorist organization to return to their towns and villages in rural Aleppo after their towns and villages have been liberated. It also stresses the importance of the quick provision of essential services for those areas.”
The Coalition pointed out that elected local councils will take on the administration of the freed towns and villages away from the authority of terrorist groups and the status quo they sought to establish. The Syrian Interim Government and the Syrian National Army will play a primary role in the administration of these areas and the provision of protection for the civilian population.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Officials in the Syrian Coalition condemned assaults by the so-called "Salvation Government", which is affiliated with Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham militant group, on offices of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG). It stressed that the Salvation Government’s policies and practices contradict the goals of the Syrian Revolution for freedom, dignity, and transition to a pluralistic, democratic state.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Rahman Mustafa condemned violations being committed by Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham, a rebrand of the terrorist Al-Nusra Front. He pointed out that many international and human rights organizations documented war crimes committed by those organizations against civilians.
Mustafa underscored that SIG’s main task is the provision of services to civilians and the restoration of state institutions in line with the objectives of the Syrian revolution. He stressed that SIG is the only legitimate executive arm in liberated areas.
The so-called Salvation Government, with military assistance from Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham, closed SIG offices in the province of Idlib and faculties of Aleppo Free University located in the northern rural Idlib. Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham militants also seized a grain mill belonging to SIG in western rural Aleppo supplying around 40 bakeries with flour.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that assaults by the so-called Salvation Government and terrorist militias on SIG’s offices in Idlib have reflected negatively on civilians. He noted that such attacks have exacerbated the suffering of the civilian population resulting from the ongoing onslaught by Assad regime forces and Iranian militias on Idlib with Russian air support. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
The Syrian Negotiations Commission announced it would be participating in the upcoming round of negotiations that were called for by the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura and which will be held in the Austrian capital Vienna next week in the framework of the Geneva political process.
In a statement on Thursday, the Commission said: “In response to the invitation sent by the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to attend a special meeting with the United Nations within the framework of the UN-led Geneva political process, the Syrian Negotiations Commission announces it will be participating in that special meeting due to be held on January 25 and 26."
Official spokesman for the Commission Yahya Aridi said that the participation of the Commission in the Vienna meeting comes within the framework of "the emphasis on the UN-led talks as the path for political solution in Syria.”
Aridi pointed out that the UN is "the party with on obligation to implement its resolutions to find a political solution that will rid Syria of tyranny and achieve a transition to a free, democratic state for all its citizens." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission Nasr al-Hariri and an accompanying delegation met French President Emmanuel Macron in the Elysee Palace in Paris on Wednesday.
The visit came as part of a tour the Commission is making of a number of European countries in preparation for the upcoming round of UN-led talks due to be held in the Austrian capital Vienna next week.
During the meeting with the French president, Hariri stressed that the Commission insists on the implementation of international resolutions to bring about real political transition in Syria in line with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Hariri noted that Russia has sought to block all international proposals to find a solution in Syria, including the Sochi conference. He stressed that the setting of preconditions as well as the bombing of cities and towns are undermining the political process and preventing any progress in the peace efforts.
Hariri pointed out that by proposing to hold the Sochi conference, Russia is seeking to achieve what it failed to achieve in the talks held earlier in the Kazakh capital Astana.
The delegation of the Commission is scheduled to meet with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano in Rome on Thursday and will travel to Berlin on Friday.
For his part, French president reaffirmed his country's continued support for the Geneva political process, stressing that the European Union will not contribute to reconstruction efforts in Syria before the start of a transitional phase without Assad. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition, Nazir al-Hakim, stressed that forces of the revolution and its institutions all agree on the demand of the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his clique at the start of the transitional period. He stressed that any party that tries to support or reproduce the Assad regime will be partner in the spread of repressive, extremist ideologies that are based on the curtailment of freedom and the continuation of killings and murder.
Hakim was speaking during a meeting with President of the Union of the Free Syrian Writers, Tawfiq al-Obeid, on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Coalition’s General Secretariat in Istanbul.
Hakim was presented with an honorary shield from the Union of the Free Syrian Writers expressing their appreciation for the moral support the Coalition extends to all institutions of the revolution.
Hakim said that the crimes being committed by the Assad regime and its allied foreign militias cannot be obliterated from history or books, adding that the countries, institutions and people who stood by Assad "cannot be forgotten nor can they erase the ignominy they brought upon themselves.”
Hakim pointed out that the Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) will always stand by all the free institutions that are helping Syrians regain their free decisions and end the Assad regime’s control of all aspects of life in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition announced it condemns announcement by the United States of plans to build a military force in northeastern Syria.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition said that it “condemns plans by the United States to form a border force in northeastern Syria,” expressing its “rejection of any pretexts or allegations being used to advance such projects.”
The Coalition stressed the importance of efforts to combat terrorism and to counter the ISIS extremist group. “However, fighting terrorism does not justify the use of organizations that commit violations and crimes against the Syrian people,” it said.
“It is not acceptable to place the territories freed from terrorism under the control of the militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) or any other organizations whose agendas contradict the goals of the Syrian revolution and those which are linked to the regime and the occupation forces,” the Coalition went on.
The Coalition pointed out that plans announced by Washington must have instead been aimed at focusing on the creation of conditions that force the Assad regime and its backers to respect international resolutions on Syria.
“The continued ignoring of the urgent requirements for reaching a political solution, and the continued blocking of supplies for the Free Syrian Army, coupled with supporting and arming other forces with non-national projects as well as working to carry out such illegal and unacceptable plans have revealed an opportunistic policy exploiting the current circumstances to create more problems instead of exerting pressure on the Assad regime and its supporters to abide by international resolutions.”
The Coalition underscored that “all attempts to impose any kind of projects or solutions that threaten to divide Syria are all doomed to failure, not to mention they risk fueling the conflict and increasing the suffering of millions of Syrians.”
The Coalition concluded the press release by stressing that “events that have occurred over the past few years as well as the enormous sacrifices being made by the Syrian people and their commitment to the principles of the revolution have shown that no party will be able to make any steps or implement any projects on the ground against the will of the Syrian people who will continue their struggle for freedom, dignity and justice.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Head of the Syrian opposition Negotiations Commission Nasr Al-Hariri spoke in front of the British Parliament about the Syrian issue and its latest developments on Tuesday. He stressed the important role of the United Kingdom and the European Union in exerting pressure on Russia and Iran to force the Assad regime to abide by international resolutions on Syria.
Hariri and an accompanying delegation also met Alistair Burt, UK Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and with Christian Turner, Deputy National Security Adviser in the British capital on Tuesday.
The two sides discussed the role of Britain in the group of friends of Syria and ways of activating the role of the group through the member states’ use of their influence to push the political process forward in order to bring about a solution in Syria in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Britain reiterated its support for the Commission and its efforts to reach a solution to the conflict in Syria. It stressed the need to reach a political settlement in order to ease the suffering of the Syrian people through a real transitional process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Spokeswoman for the UK Foreign Office Rose Griffiths said: "The visit by the Syrian opposition Negotiations Commission is part of the UK's efforts to work with Syrians and international partners to support a political solution to the conflict in Syria."
"The Syrian opposition Negotiations Commission is an important partner in these efforts because of its credibility and excellent rapport with the Syrian people in addition to its strong commitment to help end the suffering of the Syrian people."
Griffiths went on: "We agree with the Syrian opposition that the only way to reach a sustainable solution in Syria is through a genuine political transitional process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254. We support the UN-led Geneva process to achieve this goal as we call on all parties to make the process a success through the demonstration of pragmatism and flexibility."
Griffiths also stressed that “the Commission has seriously engaged in the negotiating process in good faith and without preconditions." She noted that a successful negotiating process needs two sides, but the Assad regime continues to block efforts to reach a political solution especially through his refusal to engage in direct negotiations.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)