MESOP Syria Daily: Regime — Opposition / Opposition: “Positive talks”

February 02 – 2016 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – The Assad regime’s delegation at talks in Geneva on Syria drew a firm line against any significant discussions on Sunday, labeling the opposition-rebel en bloc as “terrorists”.The regime’s lead negotiator, UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, said Damascus will not accept preconditions for negotiations.The opposition-rebel High Negotiation Committee, which held its first discussion with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on Sunday, has said that “proximity talks” with the regime can only follow a commitment to ceasefires, detainee releases from regime prisons, and access to humanitarian aid for besieged areas.

However, Ja’afari maintained:We don’t deal with terrorists. There are foreign powers endorsing foreign agendas, aiming at making political pressure on the Syrian government by using terrorism as a political weapon.The Ambassador did say that he would discuss the ceasefires, detainee releases, and humanitarian corridors; however, these could only be part of the talks and could not be agreed before them.The Assad regime’s ally Iran backed up Ja’afari’s line. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told UN envoy de Mistura, “Precautions must be taken so that the terrorists do not enter the talks and take advantage of them under a new guise.”


The opposition-rebel bloc said later on Sunday that the initial discussions with de Mistura were “very positive” on “humanitarian issues”.The HNC met for several hours to discuss the outcome, announcing that its lead negotiator — Mohammad Alloush of the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam — would arrive in Geneva on Monday.

De Mistura’s office said he would meet the regime delegation today at 1100 local time (1000 GMT) and the HNC at 1700 (1600 GMT).

HNC spokesman Salem al-Meslet told reporters, “We wish to see food reaching people who are starving to death, to the women and children. we want women released from regime prisons and the criminal bombardment from Russia to end.”HNC member Basma Kodmani added, “We do not trust the regime but we are waiting for something to happen any minute.”US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to extend another hand to the opposition-rebel bloc, which debated for several days before agreeing to go to Geneva, by emphasizing the issue of aid in a video statement:

People are dying, children are suffering — not as a result of an accident of war, but as the consequence of an intentional tactic: “Surrender or Starve”. And that tactic is directly contrary to the law of war. Let me be clear. The Syrian regime has a fundamental responsibility, all the parties to the conflict have a duty to facilitate humanitarian access to populations in need.