The Syrian Coalition discussed the latest political developments regarding Syria with a delegation from the US State Department on Friday. Both sides also discussed the international efforts to reinvigorate the Geneva process in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 2118 and 2254.
The meeting brought together a delegation from the Coalition headed by President Abdurrahman Mustafa and a delegation from the US State Department headed by Richard Outzen, senior adviser to the US envoy to Syria. They discussed the latest field and political developments in Syria, including most notably the latest military escalation by the regime and Russia in northwestern Syria and Iran’s growing influence in the institutions of the army and security as well as the Syrian society.
President Mustafa said that the US delegation “briefed us about the latest developments," pointing out that there is still an opportunity for progress in the political process, especially in the event of the formation of an expanded international group to support the efforts of the UN envoy to form the Constitutional Committee. He also said there is still opportnity for working on the negotiating process in Geneva and for discussing the rest of baskets of governance, elections, and the fight against terrorism in parallel.
President Mustafa thanked the US delegation for the efforts their country is exerting to de-escalate the situation in Syria and reach a nationwide ceasefire. He stressed the graveness of the regime’s continued bombing of civilians as well as healthcare facilities and residential buildings and the targeting of the Turkish observation points.
Moreover, President Mustafa said that the regime forces must withdraw to the pre-September 2018 lines, pointing to the need for forcing the Assad regime to abide by the ceasefire.
The Coalition’s representatives reviewed the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the grave violations taking place against them. They stressed the need to take swift action to bring these violations to an end and ensure the refugees’ safety. They also stressed the need for US and international action to respond to the needs of the displaced persons in the Rukban camp near the Jordanian border and al-Hol IDP camp in al-Hasaka province as well as to ensure their safety and meet their needs.
The Coalition praised the Turkish and US efforts to reach agreements on northeastern Syria that ensure the protection and safety of the Syrian and Turkish peoples as well as their national security and territorial integrity.
The two sides exchanged views on the foundations of governance systems in the liberated areas in a way that brings greater stability and security for these areas and their inhabitants in all their components. They agreed that such governance needs also to contributes to the ultimate elimination of terrorist organizations and extremist ideology and strengthen the unity of the Syrian people and maintain Syria’s territorial integrity.
President Mustafa underscored the importance of eliminating the root causes of extremism, especially the presence of the Iranian sectarian militias and Iran's interference in the internal affairs of Syria.
He also stressed the need for the withdrawal of these militias from Syria and putting an end to the interference of the Iranian regime in Syria’s internal affairs.
Both sides stressed the need to activate accountability and transitional justice as well as the economic sanctions and legal action. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
As many as 50 Syrian civil organizations on Thursday sent a joint letter to the UN Security Council calling for immediate action on the issue of missing persons and detainees in Syria. They welcomed the issuance of UN Security Council Resolution 2474 which called for prioritizing the issue of detainees and missing persons.
The letter called on the UN Security Council and defenders of human rights to exercise pressure and take concrete measures to ensure the disclosure of the fate of thousands of missing persons and the launch of serious, transparent investigation as well as establish accountability mechanisms.
The letter stressed the issue of the missing persons as key to reaching peace; establish sustainable community peace; and build a state that is based on the rule of law that fights impunity and ends the use of enforced disappearance as a weapon of war.
Moreover, the letter called for an immediate end to the arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and execution of detainees. It also called for preserving evidence and mass graves to ensure accountability.
The NGOs called for forcing the main parties to the conflict, especially the Assad regime and ISIS, to fully and unconditionally cooperate to reveal the fate of detainees and missing persons.
The Assad regime, despite issuing death notices for the missing persons after years of their disappearance, has yet to launch an independent, transparent investigation into the reasons for their deaths and disclose the location and conditions of their detention. The NGOs also called for an end to impunity that stands in the way of any sustainable peace in Syria.
Furthermore, the NGOs highlighted the importance of establishing a national institution under UN supervision to open secret and public detention centers to international inspectors and human rights organizations. They also called for supporting civil society organizations to carry out their research tasks, documentation of the missing persons, identification of the perpetrators, the provision of evidence to the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and the IIIM to pursue investigations and prosecutions against the perpetrators of major crimes in Syria.
In a report issued in March, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said that about 128,000 people are still being detained or forcibly disappeared in the prisons of the Assad regime since 2011.
The Syrian Coalition earlier called on the UN Security Council and international organizations concerned with human rights and the United Nations to exert real pressure on the influential sides to force the Assad regime to disclose the fate of tens of thousands of civilians who are forcibly disappeared and ensure the immediate release of thousands of others detained in their prisons and security branches.
The UN Security Council, on request from Kuwait, on October 11 adopted resolution 2474 to discuss the issue of the missing persons, calling for the disclosure of their fate and the protection of civilians. The resolution also called upon parties to armed conflict to take all appropriate measures, to actively search for persons reported missing, to enable the return of their remains and to account for persons reported missing “without adverse distinction.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, received the French President's Personal Representative for Syria François Sénémaud and an accompanying delegation to discuss the latest developments in Syria and the war crimes the Russian-backed Assad forces are committing against Syrian civilians in the ‘de-escalation zone’ in northwestern Syria.
President Mustafa called on France to take serious action outside the UN Security Council with the active countries to put an end to the military attacks on civilians and medical centers. He stressed the importance of maintaining the international will to hold war criminals accountable and prevent more atrocities.
President Mustafa also underscored the need to support the Idlib agreement and recommit to the ceasefire agreement. He called on "our friends in the French government to increase the international momentum on Syria to pave the way for a comprehensive political transition and full implementation of international resolutions on political transition.” He also called for increased pressure on the Assad regime to implement UN resolutions, most importantly the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Moreover, President Mustafa said that the implementation of regional agreements and international resolutions would restore stability to Syria and the region. It would also curb terrorism being fueled by the Assad regime, Iran and the other terrorist organizations, adding that this would prevent new waves of refugees.
President Mustafa thanked France for its participation in the imposition of economic sanctions on the Assad regime. He called for the ratcheting up of economic pressure on the regime and more economic sanctions, especially on the foreign companies that support the regime and violate the sanctions imposed on it.
President Mustafa talked about the PYD militias’ violations against civilians east of the Euphrates River, which he said amounted to war crimes. The PYD militias are rounding up the young people for recruitment into its ranks, he said, adding that this militia is involved in the burning of agricultural land in the region, which led to the loss of tens of thousands of vital wheat and barley crops.
For his part, the French envoy stressed the importance of reaching a ceasefire as it would "help reach a political solution." He said that the regime’s ongoing military campaign is "malignantly executed’ as it targets civilians, hospitals, schools and markets.
Sénémaud also said that his country strongly condemns these attacks. He noted that France is prioritizing the humanitarian situation of civilians and the displaced persons and are working on new ideas that will help improve their conditions and enable them cope with the crisis. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Ten Lebanese civil society organizations launched a campaign against racism and to show solidarity with the Syrian refugees and their rights in Lebanon. They slammed the fueling of hostility and hatred against refugees as they called for respect for international conventions and treaties and the enhancement of the contribution of refugees to the Lebanese economy.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the NGOs said that the hate speech is leading to more violence against refugees and displaced persons. "The past few weeks have witnessed several incidents, such as the deportation of refugees, the burning of tents, intimidating workers, incitement of hatred against vulnerable individuals and the erection of checkpoints by civilians telling Syrian refugees to leave.”
Dozens of Lebanese intellectuals, journalists and rights activists on Tuesday issued a statement denouncing the racist campaign against the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They said that the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil is leading this “hysteria campaign.”
The statement said that the racist campaign is targeting people who were displaced from their country as a result of the brutality of the Assad regime. It noted that a component of the Lebanese government has been aiding the Assad regime in the displacement of Syrian civilians for the past few years.
The campaign, in which some of the local municipalities are involved, is accompanied by political, administrative and security measures by the Lebanese state. The statement described these measures as arbitrary and designed to humiliate the Syrian refugees and turn their lives into a living hell.
The signatories demanded the filing of complaints at law courts as they urged human rights organizations to take action to stop the campaigns targeting the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. They also stressed the importance of respecting the laws that criminalize racism
The Lebanese authorities have recently issued a decision to deport Syrian refugees who illegally entered Lebanon after April 24, 2019. Human rights activists said that the decision violated of the Lebanese constitution.
The Head of the Syrian Coalition’s Department of Refugee Affairs Amal Sheikho said that the Lebanese authorities have taken "unprecedented measures against the Syrian refugees,” citing the targeting of defecting Syrian army officers in preparation for their handover to the regime.
The Department has recently held meetings with lawyers, journalists, activists and politicians concerned about the affairs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. It discussed with them the violations against refugees and ways to take legal action to put an end to such violations and provide protection for refugees and restore their rights.
Sheikho stressed that the responsibility for the safety of Syrian refugees lies with the Lebanese authorities, calling on the United Nations to launch an urgent investigation and follow up on the cases to prevent the deportation of Syrianb refugees to the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)