The Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) met with officials of the US State Department’s Syria Transition Assistance Response Team (START) program.
The meeting brought together SOC’s Vice-president Ruba Habboush, Coordinator of the SOC’s Department of Foreign Relations, Abdulahad Asteipho, member of the political committee Badr Jamous, Coordinator of the SOC’s Caesar Act Follow-up Team Abdul Majid Barakat, and Director of START program Terrence Flynn.
Participants in the meeting also included SOC’s President Nasr Al-Hariri who participated via a video link as he is currently in the freed territories in northwestern Syria to follow the latest developments.
Al-Hariri stressed the need for the international community, especially the United States and Turkey, to take a clear, firm stance towards the Assad regime and its allies’ recent military escalation in Idlib province, especially in view of the ongoing preparations for a new military operation threatening more than four million civilians in northwestern Syria.
Al-Hariri said that the liberated areas are in urgent need for relief aid in light of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. He called for providing basic aid to residents of al-Rukban camp near the Jordanian border which is under tightened blockaded by the Assad regime.
Moreover, Al-Hariri pointed out that providing humanitarian aid needs action, not just statements.
Barakat gave a brief overview on the results of the sanctions issued under the Caesar Act and the ways through which the Assad regime is circumventing these sanctions, adding that the Assad regime has resorted to the parallel economy in Lebanon and is relying on the Hezbollah Militia for the trafficking of weapons and illicit drugs.
Jamous talked in brief about the recent telephone conversation between President of the Syrian Negotiations Commission Anas Abdah, and the UN special envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen following his recent visit to Damascus. He said that there is a possibility to hold a fourth round of the work of the Constitutional Committee next month.
For their part, the US officials offered their condolences for the death of the Syrian National Army fighters who were killed in Russian airstrikes on rural Idlib on Monday, stressing their country’s rejection of this grave military escalation.
The US officials reiterated that the United States would continue to work with the SOC as one of its most important partners.
Moreover, they pointed out that Washington will maintain the same priorities for its foreign policy in Syria, namely to eliminate ISIS, force Iran and its militias from Syria, and reach a genuine political solution in accordance with UN Resolution 2254.
They gave an overview on the latest developments in the intra-Kurdish dialogue and the motives behind holding it early April. They made it clear that the United States was keen to inform its allies, especially the SOC and Turkey, about the developments in this dialogue, stressing that this dialogue is intended to serve as a model for other dialogues in northern Syria with the participation of all components of the region with the aim of increasing pressure on the Assad regime. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)