President of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC), Salem Al-Meslet, received a US delegation headed by START’s political chief Rachel Schneller and discussed with them the latest on the ground and political developments in Syria.
The meeting brought together SOC’s Vice-President Abdulahad Asteipho and Ruba Habboush, Secretary-General Haitham Rahma member of the Political Committee Abdullah Kaddo, and START’s Political Officer Randall Kaailau.
Al-Meslet stressed the US important role in reining in the bloody attacks that the Assad regime forces and their allies are waging against civilians in Idlib on a daily basis. He also stressed the US role in preventing a new regime’s onslaught on Dara’a which has been subjected to a tightened blockade for about a month. Moreover, Al-Meslet emphasized the need for the major actors in the international community to take swift action to save the lives of more than 50,000 civilians trapped in Dara’a and who are being subjected to shelling by the regime forces and their allied Iranian militias. Those civilians are now deprived of access to healthcare as a result of the regime’s shelling on Thursday. The living conditions in the city are rapidly deteriorating due to the tightened blockade and escalating attacks against civilians.
Al-Meslet talked about Russia’s recent bid to convene a conference for Syrian refugees even though Moscow continues to support the regime and launch new attacks that displace more Syrians and force them to flee the country. He stressed the SOC’s support for the safe return of Syrian refugees after a political transition have been put in place through the implementation of the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN resolutions on Syria, most importantly resolutions 2118 and 2254, and the creation of a safe and stable environment for the return of refugees.
Moreover, Al-Meslet stressed that Iran’s schemes do not pose a threat to Syria only, but also to the countries of the region as a whole, as well as to the strategic interests of the United States in the region. He added that Iran is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the entire region.
Al-Meslet pointed out that a SOC delegation will visit Afrin and Ras al-Ayn early next week, adding that the SOC is seeking the return of residents to their land and homes and is keen on the security and safety of the people.
Furthermore, Al-Meslet pointed out that the Kurdish issue is at the heart of the general national cause of all Syrians. He made it clear that this is an issue of rights usurped by the Assad regime, and that it is a major source of concern for the SOC. He stressed that terrorist groups such as the PYD and PKK have hijacked the representation of Kurds and distorted the demands of our Kurdish brethren and their just cause through practices that mirror those of the Assad regime.
He stressed the importance of stepping up support for the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), especially the ministries of health and education as they are providing health and education services to the population. He pointed out that the Covid-19 has pandemic has exhausted the region, while an entire generation of Syrians are now deprived of education.
Al-Meslet reaffirmed his keenness on strong and continued relations with friendly states, especially the United States, in order to serve common interests and the aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity.
SOC’s Vice-president Ruba Habbush also spoke about the importance of maintaining the Caesar Act sanctions on the Assad regime to prevent it from funding its war against the Syrian people.
She also talked about the importance of supporting the alternative media, the work of the SOC’s Women and Youth Commissions, and the need to support these commissions in order to ensure the presence of women and the youth at the dialogue table and in decision-making.
For his part, SOC’s Secretary-General Haitham Rahma spoke about the developments in the work of the Constitutional Committee. He highlighted the regime’s continued obstruction of the committee’s work, not only through procrastination and creation of obstacles, but also through its continued atrocities against civilians in Dara’a, Idlib, and rural Hama and Aleppo.
Meanwhile, member of the political committee Abdullah Kaddo reaffirmed the SOC’s keenness on improving security and basic services in Afrin, Ras al-Ayn, Tal Abyad and other Syrian regions. He added that the Committee for Investigating Violations is making efforts to resolve problems, ensure the return of the IDPs to their homes, and offer US assistance in finding a solution to the problem of water shortage in the city of Al-Hasakah.
With regard to the Afrin region, Kaddo indicated that the major obstacle is the PYD’s prevention of the displaced people of Afrin from returning and forcing them to stay in the Shahba IDPs camp. He pointed out that 39 households has recently managed to flee the camp and reached their homes in Afrin. He also said that rest of the camp residents strongly wish they could return to their homes.
Kaddo pointed out that the primary conditions for the success of the intra-Kurdish dialogue is the PYD’s disassociation from the PKK organization. He added that things are not going in this direction as the PYD leadership has recently started issuing threats against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region in defense of the presence of PKK militants in the region. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)