The Syrian Negotiations Commission on Sunday concluded its regular meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Commission held a press conference in which head of the Commission, Nasr al-Hariri, talked about the latest developments in the political process and the constitutional committee.
Hariri said that the Commission held several meetings to discuss the latest political and filed developments. It also discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the al-Rukban camp, the widespread violations in Idlib province, and the ongoing negotiations on the establishment of a safe zone in northeastern Syria free of terrorist organizations.
Hariri said that the Commission met with UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen with whom it held in-depth and detailed discussions on the political process and the implementation of UN resolution 2254. The discussions were focused on the formation of the constitutional committee.
Hariri said that he expects the Constitutional Committee will launch its work soon, noting that the current discussions revolved around the sponsorship of the Committee and the rules of procedure.
Moreover, Hariri said that the Committee would serve as a gateway for the UN-led political process. "We can say now that we are about to have a constitutional committee that will be formed under the auspices of the United Nations as part of the implementation of UN resolution 2254. The Commission would participate in the Committee in good faith in order to establish a political future for Syria.”
Hariri highlighted the malicious role Iran is playing in Syria and its occupation of the country. He said that Iran is seeking to obstruct the political solution and is fighting the Syrian people on behalf of the Assad regime, stressing that there are about 100,000 Iranian fighters or linked to Iran in the country.
Hariri pointed out that "Iran’s role is persistently growing at the expense of our people. Therefore, we support any international move that may curb Iran's influence in the region in general, and in our country in particular." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Head of the Syrian Coalition’s National Commission for the Affairs of Detainees and Missing Persons, Yasser Al-Farhan, stressed the need to hold Assad accountable at the International Conference on National, Regional and International Mechanisms to Combat Impunity and Ensure Accountability under the Law which was held in the Qatari capital Doha on 14-15 March.
Al-Farhan, who attended the conference at the official invitation of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, warned that the continued impunity in Syria would provoke more violence in the world.
Al-Farhan said that the Syrian delegation, which included the Syrian Ambassador to Qatar Nizar al-Haraki, held several meetings with international and human rights personalities concerned with the Syrian issue in order to shed light on the situation inside Syria and to inform them about the most serious crimes and violations taking place in Syria, especially in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Al-Farhan pointed to the importance of the conference which was held in partnership with the European Parliament, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI). The conference also brought together members of the diplomatic corps and heads of foreign missions in Qatar.
The Syrian delegation reiterated its calls on the international community and human rights organizations to take urgent action to put an end to the Assad regime’s gross violations and crimes against detainees in its detention centers. It highlighted some of the most serious crimes committed since the beginning of the peaceful movement in Syria.
The Syrian delegation which was headed by Al-Farhan, called on the international organizations to activate serious mechanisms to prosecute war criminals and those responsible for these crimes, most notably heads of the security and military agencies that have committed the worst atrocities against the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Abdul Basset Hamo, said that the Assad regime’s links with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Hezbollah Militia is further worsening the suffering of the Syrian people. He stressed that the return of security and stability to Syria can only be achieved through a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Hamo said that the Assad regime sought the help of organizations that are on the UN lists of terrorist groups with the sole aim of clinging to power and saving its authoritarian, dictatorial rule.
The Assad regime is mainly to blame for the current fuel crisis in its areas and the subsequent crises that will follow, Hamo said. He stressed that the situation in Syria will further worsen as long as the Assad regime remains in power and keeps its alliance with terrorist organizations.
“Syria would not be able to invest its resources, nor would it be able to import materials from abroad because of the sanctions imposed on the Assad regime in response to the war crimes it has committed over the past eight years.”
He pointed out that the elimination of ISIS, which once controlled most of the oil fields in eastern Syria, has resulted in a sharp decline in oil supplies to the regime. He added that the current fuel crisis is yet another evidence of the close relationship and trade deals that existed between the Assad regime and ISIS in the past.
Moreover, Hamo pointed out that the current fuel crisis and the "shocking" images coming from the regime-held areas confirmed that the regime is unable to cope with return of the Syrian refugees from Lebanon any other hosting countries.
“The reality on the ground indicates that there is a real conflict of interests between Russia and Iran in Damascus," Hamo said, adding that there are conflicting forces in the structure of the regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The past few days have seen increased attacks on Syrian refugees in Lebanon, with a member of the Syrian Coalition describing them as “systematic” and warning of covert agreement between the Lebanese government and Russia.
The mistreatment of Syrian refugees, which included arrests and closures of shops, coincided with statements by Lebanese officials targeting Syrian refugees. The anti-refugees rhetoric amounting to provocation of hatred culminated in the killing of a 25-year-old Syrian refugee who was stabbed to death by a Lebanese man in the town of Talia in the Lebanese province of Baalbek.
Amal Sheikho, head of the Syrian Coalition’s Commission on Refugees and Displaced Persons said that “any attempt by the Lebanese government to return Syrian refugees to their country will be risky.” She added: “The reasons that led Syrian civilians to flee their country still exist as was confirmed by local and international human rights which said that killings, arrests and torture still exist.
Sheikho warned of the "frantic attempts" by some Lebanese parties to force the Syrian refugees to return before a political solution is reached. She underscored that these attempts can be categorized as part of “the forced return and violate the principles of international legality on dealing with refugees."
Moreover, Sheikho rejected Russia’s claims about giving guarantees for the safety of refugees after their return “as past experience have proved Russia as a biased party and cannot rein in the actions of the Assad regime or the Iranian terrorist militias.” She stressed that the only framework for resolving the issue of Syrian refugees is the United Nations in parallel with a just political solution.
Sheikho pointed out that no one can forget or overlook the role of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in aiding the Assad regime in the commission of war crimes, the destruction of whole cities, towns and villages, and the mass forced displacement of their population.
Sheikho called on decision makers in the Lebanese government and other public and humanitarian officials to stand up to “the unjust project aimed at forcing the Syrian refugees to return to the hellish security services and the criminal institution that have decades-long history of intimidation of Lebanon and the Lebanese people.
Sheikho reminded all other international organizations, particularly the United Nations, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and all relevant international organizations of their responsibilities towards the Syrian refugees. She urged them to take action to stop any attempts or pressures against Syrian refuges to force them return. She said that the return must be voluntary any away from coercion or intimidation. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition held the international community responsible for the Assad regime’s continued crimes against Syrian civilians, especially its repeated use of chemical weapons. It stressed that the silence about these crimes and the use of chemical weapons has encouraged the regime to commit further crimes and escalate its attacks on civilians.
In a press release marking the second anniversary of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attack on the town of Douma near Damascus, the Coalition said that Russia continues to block all efforts aimed at ensuring accountability and has been avidly seeking to sabotage all opportunities for solution through diplomatic and political ways.
“The appropriate, effective response to the Assad regime’s crimes and the situation that Russia seeks to consolidate requires the urgent implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. They also require international action to ensure that the Assad regime, Iran and Russia respect these resolutions; engage in the political process; and start the process of political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 UN Security Council resolutions 2118 and 2254 under the auspices of the United Nations,” the Coalition said.
The Syrian Coalition held the Assad regime and its allies responsible for these chemical attacks, murders and displacement as it stresses the responsibility of the international community for bringing the criminals to justice. It called for a common position to bring war criminals from the regime officials to justice before the ICC.
Moreover, the Coalition stressed the need to reactivate the Joint International Investigation Commission, refer the war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and to impose the most severe sanctions against anyone whose hands are stained with the blood of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdulrahman Mustafa and members of the political committee on Tuesday met with Joel Rayburn, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria in the U.S. State Department and an accompanying team. The two sides discussed the progress in the dialogue on the establishment of a safe zone east of the Euphrates and sparing the region any military action.
The two sides also discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria, most notably the serious military escalation by the Assad regime and its allies in northern Syria, the United States’ recent decision to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist group, and the issue of the safe zone.
President Mustafa said that the Assad regime continues to commit crimes against unarmed civilians in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo and Hama, noting that the regime and its allies have most recently used the white phosphorous and cruise missiles in their bombing campaign.
President Mustafa underlined the importance of holding the Assad regime accountable for these crimes as key to the political process that was laid out in international resolutions on Syria, most notably the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254. He called on the United States and its allies to ratchet up pressure on the Assad regime to force it to respect the Idlib ceasefire agreement and agree on the resumption of the political process.
With regard to the issue of east of the Euphrates River, President Mustafa stressed the importance of US-Turkish agreement in that region. He also underlined the important role the Syrian Interim Government could play in governance. He went on to say that the Syrian Coalition is working on the restructuring of the Syrian Interim Government and developing a new plan of action to operate in Syria’s north. He pointed to the importance of support from friendly countries for the success of these efforts.
For his part, Mr. Rayburn said that his country is currently focusing on supporting accountability and preventing impunity. He cited war crimes being committed by the Assad regime, including those that were revealed by the Caesar photos. He also touched on the latest developments in the Caesar Bill which the US already adopted.
He pointed out that Washington would not allow Iran to continue to commit crimes against civilians in Syria, adding that these crimes are one of the reasons behind the US decision to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group.
Mr. Rayburn stressed the importance of ensuring the engagement of all components of the north east region in the local councils, the continued dialogue on the establishment of a safe zone, and averting any military option. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Civil Defense said that suspected Russian long-range missiles hit the town of Jisr al-Shughour in rural Idlib as a local observatory reported that the source of the missiles is the Russian warships stationed in the Mediterranean off the Syrian coast.
The Civil Defense pointed out that the missiles pummeled residential neighborhoods in the town, injuring 12 civilians, mostly children and women as well as causing massive destruction to civilian homes.
The local newspaper Inab Baladi reported that the missiles were fired from Russian battleships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lattakia, adding that the missiles have a range of 90 to 120 km.
The Russian air force carried out several airstrikes on the town of Kafarzeita in northern rural Hama overnight, killing a civilian and wounding ten others.
The eastern and southern parts of Idlib on Sunday were hit with cluster bombs which killed five civilians and injured 17 others in the town of Sarqib and seven others in the town of Nayrab and one in al-Khawain, according to the Civil Defense.
The Syrian Coalition said that these grave developments need to be met with serious positions by the guarantors of the agreement in the first place, stressing that the ongoing bombing campaign is a continuation of the crimes against civilians.
The Coalition called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities, particularly with regards to the maintenance of international peace and security; to intervene to stop war crimes; and to hold the perpetrators accountable. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee, Riyad al-Hassan, slammed remarks made by spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova who said that the issue of the departure of the head of the regime, Bashar al-Assad, is a “closed door and that everyone has already turned the page on the issue” which she said “must not be subjected to negotiations on Syria.”
Al-Hassan said that Zakharova's statement represented a blatant defiance to the Syrian people who have sacrificed thousands of lives and have demanded the departure of the regime since the beginning of the revolution. He said that Assad inherited the throne of the Assad family which has ruled the country for five decades.
Moreover, Al-Hassan said that Zakharova's remarks risk undermining efforts to achieve progress in the political processes, whether the one being sponsored by Moscow in the Sochi Conference or the UN-led process in Geneva.
The Assad regime is responsible for the killing and the forced disappearance of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, torture, war crimes and widespread violations, and the forced displacement of millions of Syrians to neighboring countries and the rest of the world.
Al-Hassan went on to say that Russian’s support for the Assad regime makes Russia a party to the conflict, which violate the decisions of the Geneva conference aimed at ending the regime’s war against the Syrian people. He pointed out that Assad's survival eliminates the possibility of forming a transitional government with full powers in Syria in line with the Geneva Communique of 2012.
Al-Hassan called for respect for UN Resolution 2254, which states that there is no lasting solution to the current crisis in Syria except through an inclusive political process in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition stressed the importance of holding accountable the Assad regime and all those responsible for war crimes in Syria in order to prevent impunity on the second anniversary of the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Coalition renewed its calls to include the issue of crimes committed in Syria within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and to hold accountable all criminals and their accomplices.
The Coalition also renewed its calls to activate Article 21 of UN Security Council Resolution 2018 to impose measures against the Assad regime under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.
“The massacre was just part of the long litany of crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law as well as of international norms and UN Security Council resolutions. Furthermore, the crime was met with a series of statements and condemnations that were merely aimed at face-saving,” the Coalition said.
The Coalition said that the reality on the ground confirms that the Assad regime insists on its policy of murder, displacement and escalation which resulted in the deaths of at least 15 civilians and the injury of dozens more in the past 24 hours. Violent shelling hit rural Hama, Aleppo and Idlib, including the town of Khan Sheikoun.
“The continued absence of any legal response to the crimes and violations taking place in Syria has consolidated the culture of impunity. It also makes the major players in the international community as indirect partners as they bear the responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The Coalition went on: “This horrific chapter of the history of Syria and the region must be brought to an end through serious and responsible international position that is committed to the protection of civilians, the implementation of international law and international resolutions, and accountability.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition, in the presence of President Abdurrahman Mustafa as well as members of the presidential body and political committee, met with a delegation from the Syrian Tribal Council headed by Sheikh Rami al-Doush on Wednesday. Both sides discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria, especially the ongoing bombing campaign by the Assad regime and its allies on the demilitarized zone and the resulting civilian casualties. The also discussed the PYD’s violations against civilians such as murder, arrests and torture.
Both sides also discussed the importance of restoring stability to the areas east of the Euphrates River and the elimination of terrorist organizations in all their forms. They stressed the need to fill the void in the region and prevent the PYD militia from continuing their terrorist practices against civilians in the region.
President Mustafa said that victory against ISIS could not have been achieved without the Syrian tribes, stressing the important role of the Syrian tribes in the current stage to "preserve the social fabric and safeguard the unity of Syria and its people."
The meeting also discussed the representation of the Syrian Tribal Council in the Coalition. Mustafa said that that this issue is "very important." He added that the Coalition has always sought to incorporate representatives of all spectra of the Syrian society as part of the efforts to serve the Syrian revolution and its demands.
Moreover, President Mustafa said that the Coalition is finalizing plans to establish its headquarters inside the Syrian territory by mid-April. He noted that the Coalition has already developed a plan to restructure the Syrian Interim Government and activate its role to expand its work in the areas of governance, civil administration, and basic services.
For his part, Head of the Syrian Tribal Council, Sheikh Rami al-Doush stressed the importance of continued consultation with the Coalition as well as the coordination between the Coalition and the Council. He reaffirmed commitment to the principles of the Syrian revolution as well as the establishment of a civil, democratic state respecting all its citizens and ensuring they all live in dignity.
Participants stressed their commitment to bring down the "murderous regime" with all its symbols and pillars as they insisted on the withdrawal of all terrorist forces, sectarian militias and foreign forces which are hostile to the Syrian people from Syria. They also expressed their categorical rejection of attempts to bring about demographic change in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)