Members of the Syrian Coalition’s Department of Foreign Affairs met with David Ashley, Head of the Syria Team of the UK Foreign Office to discuss the latest developments on the ground in Syria, the mass forced displacement of civilians by the Assad regime, and prospects of political process and ways to push it forward.
Head of the Department, Abdel-Ahad Steifo, said that the international community has yet to establish a mechanism to hold the Assad regime accountable for the war crimes it is committing in Syria. He stressed that lack of accountability led to more crimes and further worsened the humanitarian tragedy in Syria.
Steifo pointed out that the support that has being provided by the friends of the Syrian people has fallen short of helping them achieve their aspirations, unlike the Assad regime’s backers who continued to support it at all levels. He said that the failure to provide enough support for the Syrian people led to more war crimes and left civilians without protection after the Free Syrian Army has been weakened.
Regarding the political process, participants in the meeting pointed to the need to put the process back on the right track and on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. They also underscored the need to create a safe environment for the process as well as for the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of elections. They stressed that this is not possible as long as no real pressure is being put on the Assad regime.
Tabled for discussion was also the situation in Afrin and the latest efforts to ensure the safe return of civilians to their homes and lands as well as to restore stability to the area. Steifo noted that the only obstacle to the complete return of civilians to their homes is the mines that were planted by the PYD militias before they fled the area, which is the same problem being faced by civilians in the areas that were freed from the ISIS extremist group.
Participants also underscored the need to empower civil society organizations and allow them to work freely in Afrin as well the need to form a local council of the people of the area so that they manage their affairs by themselves.
Members of the Department also stressed the importance of relying on the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) as it has previous experience in civic administration, the provision of services to the civilian population, the development of projects to serve civilians, and the restoration of stability to a number of areas across Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)