The Syrian Coalition’s political committee on Tuesday held an important meeting with representatives of friendly countries. The meeting discussed the current situation in eastern Ghouta and the war crimes being committed by the Assad, Russian and Iranian forces against civilians. They also discussed the liberation of Afrin from the militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the latest political developments.
The meeting was attended by Head of the Syrian Negotiations Commission, Nasr al-Hariri and representative of Jaish al-Islam rebel group Mohammed Alloush. Deputy Head of the Syrian Interim Government Akram Tomah spoke via a video link from Douma, while Mustafa Saqr spoke via a video link from Harasta. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Syrian National Army Colonel Haitham Al-Afisi also spoke via a video link.
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Rahman Mustafa said that the Assad regime continues to show utter disregard for UN Security Council resolutions. He stressed the need to take action to force the Assad regime to comply with UN resolution 2401 and stop the daily killings against civilians and allow urgent humanitarian aid.
Mustafa saluted the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Turkish armed forces that liberated Afrin without causing civilian casualties or material damage. He stressed that the PYD militias are as bad as the ISIS extremist group as he said that Operation Olive Branch was aimed at liberating the town without causing any destruction.
Head of the Coalition’s Foreign Affairs Department Abdel-Ahad Steifo welcomed the representatives of friendly countries as he stressed the need for interaction and the taking of political action to save civilians and push the political process forward.
For his part, Tomah slammed the ignoring of the plight of civilians trapped in eastern Ghouta. “We have been appealing to the international community for the past seven years, but all our calls have fallen on deaf ears. The ongoing onslaught on eastern Ghouta is mainly targeting civilian.”
Tomah pointed out that the Assad regime and Russian air forces “targeted underground shelters and food warehouses and cut off eastern Ghouta into sectors with the aim of displacing the civilian population. He said that the Assad regime and Russia are seeking to put growing pressure on the rebel fighters and force eastern Ghouta to surrender.
The ongoing assault on eastern Ghouta has so far claimed the lives of 1,600 people, mostly civilians, Tomah said. “We reject forced displacement and will stick to our land. We will not accept that eastern Ghouta is returned under Assad’s rule.”
Mustafa Saqr called for urgent action by the international community to protect civilians and enable them to remain in their areas. He stressed that the people of eastern Ghouta want immediate and urgent intervention in order to achieve those goals.
Alloush said that Russia is seeking to increase its weapons sales by using eastern Ghouta as a test ground for its new weapons. “Russia has tested all types of modern aircraft against civilians in eastern Ghouta to increase its sales of new types of weapons.”
Colonel Haitham al-Afisi said that the FSA and Turkish armed forces are working on allowing all the people of Afrin to return to their homes. He noted that instructions were issued to all fighters to protect civilians and maintain infrastructure in Afrin.
“We have so far cleared as many as 10,000 mines from the area,” Afisi said. He noted that the the PYD militias used the same tactics that the extremist ISIS group used to lay mines and set up booby-traps everywhere in the area. He said that these mines have so far caused many civilian casualties.
Member of the political committee Fuad Aliko said that the PYD militia collaborated with the Assad regime, Iran and Russia as well as the United States. He said that “the PYD was used to achieve certain goals the consequences of which we repeatedly warned of.”
Aliko pointed out that the immediate priority now must be allowing the displaced people to return to their towns and villages in Afrin and establish a local council to administer the area.
As for the latest political developments, member of the political committee Hadi al-Bahra said that the Syrian Coalition, as a founding and active member within the Syrian Negotiations Commission, has been exerting all possible efforts to push the Geneva political process forward. The Coalition is also working to create the appropriate conditions for the success of the political process through serious, positive interaction within the Commission and with the rest of its components as well as with the efforts of the UN special envoy to Syria.
“The Syrian Coalition, as a unified opposition within the Syrian Negotiations Commission, is determined to help achieve the aspirations of our people for political transition through