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Russia, Iran, Turkey welcome Syrian Constitutional Committee progress

Russia, Iran and Turkey, Astana peace process guarantors, have expressed satisfaction with the progress reached in finalizing the Syrian Constitutional Committee composition, Russia, Iran and Turkey issued a joint statement following the 13th international meeting on Syria in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan on Friday.

“[Russia, Iran and Turkey] held detailed consultations in the trilateral format as well as with the representatives of the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy [for Syria] Geir O. Pedersen on the conclusion of formation and launching of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva, in accordance with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. They expressed satisfaction with the progress made on finalizing the composition and the rules of procedure of the body and reiterated their readiness to facilitate the convening of the committee as soon as possible,” the document reads.

Syria aid conference
The Astana peace process guarantors have also hashed over the issue of holding an international conference on the humanitarian aid for Syria, according to the joint statement.

“They [Russia, Iran and Turkey] also discussed the idea and exchanged views on the perspectives of holding the International Conference on the Humanitarian Assistance to Syria,” the statement says.

The document also points to the need of increasing the flow of humanitarian aid for all Syrians throughout the whole country without any preconditions. “In order to maintain the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Syria and the progress in the process of the political settlement, they called upon the international community, the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies, to enhance the assistance to Syria, inter alia by developing early recovery projects, including the restoration of basic infrastructure assets — water and power supply facilities, schools and hospitals as well as the humanitarian mine action,” the document reads.

Situation in Idlib
The three guarantors will take steps to protect civilians in Syria’s Idlib, as pledged in the joint statement.

According to the statement, the parties “reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib, first and foremost the Memorandum of September 17, 2018.” “They expressed serious concern with the increased presence of the terrorist organization ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’ in the area and reaffirmed the determination to continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council,” the statement reads. “While deploring civilian casualties, they agreed to undertake concrete measures, based on the previous agreements, to ensure the protection of the civilian population in accordance with the international humanitarian law as well as the safety and security of the military personnel of the guarantors present within and outside the Idlib de-escalation area,” the document adds.

The Russian Defense Ministry said earlier that militants continued to shell the Idlib de-escalation zone. The shelling has already claimed the lives of 110 Syrian government troops and 65 civilians, leaving over 240 Syrian military and 100 civilians wounded.

At their Sochi meeting on September 17, 2018, presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed to create a 15-20 kilometers wide demilitarized zone along the line of contact in the Idlib province. However, terrorist units are still active in the area.

The 13th international high-level meeting on Syria was held in Nur-Sultan on August 1-2. The guarantors, the Syrian government and the armed opposition sent their delegation to Kazakhstan. UN and Jordan were invited to the talks as observers, as well as Iraq and Lebanon, that took part in the Astana peace process for the first time.

Stance on creating self-rule in northeastern Syria
Russia, Iran and Turkey dismiss attempts of creating self-rule in the Kurdish areas in northeast Syria, the three guarantor countries claimed in the joint statement.

The guarantor countries “rejected all attempts at creating new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries,” says the statement read out by Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vasilenko.

The 13th international high-level meeting on Syria was held in Nur-Sultan on August 1-2. The guarantor countries and delegates from the Syrian government and armed opposition took part. Observers from the United Nations, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq were invited for the first time.

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