The American State Department Special Envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, met with a delegation from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with the meeting revolving around the details of implementing the Idleb agreement and the importance of protecting civilians there. He stressed the need to continue the political process under the full supervision of the United Nations.
The Coalition’s President, Abdel Rahman Mustafa, discussed with the American official and the delegation accompanying him the implementation of the Idleb agreement and the importance of protecting civilians there, and confirmed that the National Coalition was committed to supporting the political efforts overseen by the United Nations.
Mustafa stressed that the constitutional committee’s work under UN sponsorship was an integral part of the comprehensive constitutional process and noted that its results would serve the negotiating track in the political process.
He also expressed his hope that the international community would contribute to developing the Idleb agreement in order to reach a complete ceasefire in the country. He noted the inspection visit carried out in the buffer zone, saying that the National Coalition was looking forward to more political and diplomatic action towards engaging in an integrated political process to achieve the Syrian people’s demands and aspirations of freedom and dignity.
He noted the need to give priority to the issue of detainees in regime prisons, saying: “We cannot accept using them as a bargaining chip. This is a humanitarian issue that cannot be negotiated. There can be no silence on the Assad regime’s crimes and violations.” He expressed hope that steps would be taken to stop the torture and death inside Assad’s prisons, and that those prisoners who remained would be saved as quickly as possible.
Mustafa demanded that war criminals be held to account, including the crimes of using chemical weapons and forcible displacement which Assad has pursued. He also called for a firmer position to be taken against the Assad regime and not just settling for the monitoring of his crimes. He continued, saying: “Everyone has a responsibility to stop these continuing violations.”
He also urged greater international mobilization around Syria to pave the way to carry out a complete political transition and to implement international decisions related to the political transition and to form a transitional governing body, as well as increasing pressure on the Assad regime to carry out political measures in accordance with the Geneva declaration and Security Council Resolution 2254.
With regards to the al-Rukban camp, the head of the coalition pointed to the need to stop the siege imposed by the regime on the camp, and for humanitarian aid to be quickly delivered to the camp’s residents. Mustafa said: “It is an urgent issue, and I hope that aid will reach them as soon as possible.” He said that the issue of reconstruction does not mean stability, but rather that this was linked to eliminating the terrorist militias and holding to account those who carried out war crimes.
For his part, the American envoy stressed his country’s continuing commitment to a political solution in Syria in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254 and the hope that this solution would produce a secure, stable and pluralistic Syria.
He also stressed the full support of the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who is aiming to form a Syrian constitutional committee as soon as possible.
He said that Washington believed that any military attack on Idleb would represent a reckless escalation in Syria and the region and would subject the lives of Syrian civilians to danger and destory the city’s infrastructure.
On Monday, Jeffrey began a regional tour to discuss Syria that will last until the Oct. 23, 2018 and will include Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The American State Department said in a statement that the envoy would meet in Turkey with officials and leaders of the Syrian opposition and Syrian civil society agencies.
The department said in the statement that while in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the American envoy, “will reiterate the US position that any military offensive in Idleb would be a reckless escalation of the conflict in Syria and the region, risk the lives of Syrian civilians, and destroy civilian infrastructure.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.