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Head of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation to the Astana meeting Bashar al-Jaafari said on Monday that the meeting aims at fixing the cessation of hostilities except for the areas where terrorist organizations are active.

In a statement at the opening of Astana meeting on Monday, Al-Jaafari asserted that herds of Takfiri terrorists were gathered, trained, financed, armed, and brought across the borders with the neighboring countries.

He thanked the Kazakh president, government and people for hosting the meeting, hailing the historic ties connecting the two countries.

“Astana hosting the intra-Syrian meeting represents the mediation policy and the openness of Kazakhstan, and is the fruit of the joint efforts exerted by several parties, particularly the Russia and Iran, with the aim of fixing the decision of cessation of hostilities all over Syria except for the areas where terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra and others which rejected to join the agreement are active,” he said.

Hailing the efforts exerted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in holding the Astana meeting, al-Jaafari added that although the meeting should be a Syrian-Syrian meeting to discuss means of getting out of the crisis through a united national dialogue which ends the prevailing abnormal dangerous status, but an objective assessment of the dimensions of this war by the political analysts and researchers clarifies that it is unjust and untrue that some parts insist on considering the international terrorist war taking place in Syria of as a “crisis among the Syrians” or a “civil war.”

The head of the delegation held foreign powers responsible for what is going on in Syria, citing the latest statement of outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as saying that the expansion of ISIS in Syria prior to the Russian assistance for Damascus in its fight against the terrorist organization would force the Syrian State to negotiate with Washington, asserting that this confirms that the outgoing U.S. administration and its regional and international allies have exploited terrorism as a political weapon to destroy an independent state with the aim of controlling it and achieving their own agendas.

Al-Jaafari went on to affirm that Syria spared no effort since the beginning of the terrorist war on Syria to find a settlement and repeatedly proved that, as this is based on its keenness on stopping the bloodshed and restoring security and stability, noting that the Syrian government has engaged effectively with the Russian and Iranian partners to build on the liberation of the city of Aleppo from terrorists to reach an agreement on the cessation of hostilities.

He said that Syria hopes that the meeting will fix the cessation of hostilities for a specified period of time in a way that would separate the terrorist groups that have agreed to the cessation and that desire to national reconciliation on the one side from ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups affiliated to them on the other side, adding that Syria also hopes that all efforts will unite in fighting terrorism to meet the demands of the Syrian people, and this necessitates closing the Syrian-Turkish borders and drying up the sources of terrorism.

Al-Jaafari said that the Syrian national political powers – including the government and oppositions groups – along with the UN Security Council’s resolutions and the consultative meetings have all unanimously agreed on respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its people’s unity, not relinquishing any part of its land, and rejecting all forms of direct or indirect foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs, in way that ensures that only the Syrians will decide the future of their country through democratic means and ballot boxes.

“Syria which we love is the homeland of diversity in all its forms, a homeland where the Syrians believe in the basis and principles of their independent democratic secular state based upon political pluralism, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary system, equality among citizens in rights and duties, guaranteeing cultural and social variety among all spectrum of the Syrian people, as well as maintaining the continuation of the work of the state institutions,” he said.

He concluded by calling upon all parties to shoulder their responsibilities to stop the bloodshed and achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, who have the right to determine their future and choose their political system.

Later, al-Jaafari said in a press statement following the first session of the Astana meeting that this meeting is a very important step on the road towards political settlement in Syria, noting that the first session was well-organized by the host country.

He said that the only surprise which was a cause for concern for most of those present was the statement delivered by the head of the delegation representing armed terrorist groups, which he said was undiplomatic, irrelevant to the meeting, and inappropriate, adding that the aforementioned statement included offensive rhetoric that impugned upon the efforts exerted by Russia, Iran, and Kazakhstan to host the meeting.

Al-Jaafari went on to say that the inflammatory and trivial tone adopted by the head of the armed terrorist groups’ delegation provoked those in attendance, showing clear disparity between it and the delegations that represent capitals, citing that delegation’s defense of the war crime committed by al-Nusra terrorists who contaminated the water from al-Figeh spring, vandalized it, poured fuel into it, and wasted millions of cubic meters of drinking water.

“The head of the delegation of armed terrorist groups considered that the Syrian Arab Army’s confrontation of these terrorist groups breached the December 29, 2016 agreements, when in fact it’s self-evident to any diplomatic, journalist, or casual observer that al-Nusra is not part of these agreement, therefore there’s misinterpretation and an audacity that contains much impudence towards the significance of the event and towards those present as they interpreted agreements they signed without understanding them,” he said, adding:

“This is why I said at the beginning that what happened today is somewhat surreal and ill-fitting of the monumental efforts that were exerted and doesn’t befit the level of the important delegations that attending the opening session.”

Al-Jaafari affirmed that the lack of professionalism on the part of the armed terrorist groups delegation and the mishandling of this delegation by those who give it instructions seek to undermine the Astana meeting, adding that the actual meeting hasn’t even started; rather only the official statements were given.

He also pointed out to what is happening in Kefraya and al-Fouaa, the two towns that have been besieged for over three years and are shelled on daily basis by terrorist groups, some of which have representatives attending the Astana meeting, stressing that most of those people are amateurs in political work and can’t rise to their responsibilities, and their rhetoric is inflammatory, unrealistic, and unrelated to the goals of the Astana meeting; rather they are working to derail the meeting as instructed by those who control them.

“However, we told everyone that we will not be provoked, and we will not be part of any scenario that seeks to derail the meeting,” al-Jaafari added.

He returned to the issue of the military operation in al-Figeh spring which is the main source of potable water in Damascus which is home to 7 million people, pointing out that:

“al-Nusra is using water as a military tool, and since it is identified by the UN as a terror organization, al-Nusra cannot be defended, and the military operation against the terrorists depriving the people of Damascus from drinking water cannot be considered a breach of negotiations”.

Al-Jaafari noted that since the Astana meeting was not set up by the Syrian government and it isn’t part of the guarantors for it, Syria is not responsible for the arrangements of this meeting, adding that Turkey is the guarantor of the armed terrorist groups, with Russia and Iran being the other two guarantors.

Lavrentiev satisfied over first round of Astana talks

Head of the Russian delegation to Astana meeting Alexander Lavrentiev expressed satisfaction over the first day of talks despite “the lack of confidence between Syria’s government delegation and the opposition.”

Russia Today TV quoted Lavrentiev as saying that Russia, Iran, Turkey and the United Nations will assume the shuttle mediation between the two sides, adding that Participants in the Astana talks on the Syrian settlement continue to work on a final statement that will be issued on Tuesday afternoon.

In turn, United Nations Secretary Generals’ Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said that consultations on the sidelines of the meeting will continue till the first hours of Tuesday morning, adding that the participants still have a lot to do.

a Syrian Agency Report
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