Opposition Figures Meet in Astana to Discuss Russian Humanitarian Potential

Delegations call on Russia to open safe humanitarian corridors, a decision that would have a "very positive impact on Syrians and enhance the stature and credibility of Russia vis-a-vis the Syrian people"

Syrian opposition figures, including those aligned factions that do not oppose the presence of Assad during the proposed transitional phase, ended their conference in the Kazakh capital of Astana Monday.

The participants issued a statement calling to "unite opposition forces and those of the Assad regime to fight terrorism," and to participate in the parliamentary elections due to be held in May of next year, on the condition that they are organized under United Nations and international supervision.

Remarkably, conference participants considered that Russia, which has been bombing Syrian civilians since September 30, was in a position to leave a "humanitarian footprint", while the Russian Sputnik news agency said the statement from the Astana II Conference called on Moscow to open safe corridors to relieve the suffering of civilians in some besieged areas.

The statement said, according to the news agency, that "the meeting called on Russia to open safe humanitarian corridors and deliver urgent basic humanitarian aid of food and medicine, and to rescue civilians who have nothing to do with the conflict and its different parties."

Signatories of the statement expressed hope that the Russian government responds promptly to their demands, "to leave its mark also on the humanitarian situation in Syria," stressing that the proposed response will have a "very positive impact on Syrians and enhance the stature and credibility of Russia vis-a-vis the Syrian people."

On the other hand, the participants considered that the establishment of a Local Administration (in Syria’s Kurdish northeast) was "a successful model for building a federal, democratic and non-sectarian Syria, and not subject to a vote in (the national) Parliament," while other participants said they would not object to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being part of the country’s proposed transitional phase.

In a statement to Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen, a channel with close ties to Tehran and the Assad regime, assistant to Syria’s Mufti Abdul Jalil Saeed said: "the best solution is to stop foreign interference from all parties, and to set-up with the opposition a transitional authority, that would not delve into details such as the presence or not of President Assad."

This statement was widely criticized by those opposing the presence of Assad in the transitional phase and the future of a Syrian state.

Meanwhile, General Coordinator of the National Coordinating Body Aref Dalilah, who refused to sign the joint statement, said that the Astana Declaration must comply with and be based on the Geneva I agreement, because it is the only document that is supported by a UN Security Council resolution, and because it is accurate, detailed and comprehensive.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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