The UN Special Envoy for Syria said continued fighting in the country is a “disgrace” that has set the country back 40 years. “It is a true tragedy that people all over Syria continue to be living under constant fear of barrel bombs, mortar attacks, rockets, aerial bombing, car bombs, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings,” said Staffan de Mistura. “We are starting 2015 with the Syrian conflict being the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. “In 2015, this year, Syria had been expected to be one of the five top performers on the economic side in the Arab world, now it is the second before the last, just before Somalia,” he said, noting that the year had started with a renewed push for a solution to the crisis, and meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Iran and Russia, as well as the Secretary of State of the United States. “They all agree that we need to do something to avoid that the Syrian conflict goes on a backburner and that movement towards some type of political solution should take place this year,” he said. He urged implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on humanitarian access, foreign fighters and terrorist groups and he urged support for the proposal of a freeze to heavy fighting in Aleppo “because [the city] is a symbolic microcosm of all of Syria, because it has the highest number of displaced people, because it has seen two years of suffering, because while the Government and the opposition continue being involved in heavy fighting between them, [ with ISIL] only 20 miles away from Aleppo. Our hope is that Aleppo could be a signal of goodwill, a confidence-building measure which could and can facilitate the re-starting of a political process with a clear political horizon,” he said, stressing that parties needed to bear in mind the (2012) Geneva communique while also unconditionally adjusting their aspirations in line with new factors in the reality of the area, such as the presence of ISIL forces.
Khaled Khoja, president of the Syrian Coalition, said earlier that Russia, Assad’s staunchest ally, is still insisting on keeping him in power through its so-called initiatives aimed at reaching a settlement for the conflict during an interview with the Turkish newspaper, Star. “In its current form, Russia’s so-called initiative will surely not be accepted by the Syrian people,” Khoja stresses. He attributes ISIS’s surge in the region to the “reluctance of the friends of the Syrian people to stop Assad’s killing machine, especially the failure to supply the FSA with advanced weapons needed to counter regime forces.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)