Syrian opposition leader calls for resuming settlement talks

ROME, – Riad Hijab, the head of the Syrian opposition higher negotiations commission, on Monday expressed desire to resume compromise negotiations provided the Damascus regime lift the siege on towns and cities.

Speaking at a news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Hijab expressed willingness to hold a fourth round of negotiations with the regime, but indicated that such talks “would need an adequate and encouraging atmosphere,” apparently alluding to ongoing fighting at several axes on the Syrian arena.

The Syrian opposition has no pre-conditions for holding the discussions “but there is a need to implement the Security Council resolution 2254 which stipulates lifting the siege on the Syrian cities, allowing dispatch of humanitarian supplies and releasing the prisoners,” Hijab said.

The regime has recently arrested more than 2,500 people, thus increasing the number of prisoners it holds. Simultaneously, it has stepped up air attacks on unarmed civilians killing up to 92 people, “despite the truce agreed upon a few days ago,” Hijab said.

Hijab opined that neither the Islamic State nor Al-Qaeda will be defeated unless a rotating authority has been established in Syria, charging Bashar Al-Assad’s regime of “using terrorism as an excuse to prolong the crisis.” “Desperation is prompting people to embrace terrorism, thus we must put an end to this terrorism as well as to Al-Assad’s regime that has spilled blood,” Hijab added.

For his part, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who held consultations with the UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura ahead of his talks with Hijab, said, “the future of Syria cannot be determined by Al-Assad.” He stressed on necessity of resuming the negotiations without pre-conditions “but with certainty that Syria’s future won’t remain in Al-Assad’s hands.” He expressed hope that the major power brokers on the Syrian arena, Washington and Moscow, would work for ceasing the fighting and lifting the blockade on the northern city of Aleppo.

Source: Kuwait News Agency