UN Envoy: No Plan B, But War for Syria

UN Envoy: No Plan B, But War for Syria UN Envoy: No Plan B, But War for Syria

Syria faces a moment of truth, UN mediator Staffan de Mistura said on Monday as he opened the first of three rounds of peace talks envisaged to negotiate a “clear roadmap” for a future Syria.

Saying there was no “Plan B”, but a return to war, de Mistura asked to hear from all sides but said he would have no hesitation in calling in the big powers, led by the United States and Russia, if the talks get bogged down, Reuters reported.

“As far as I know, the only Plan B available is return to war, and to even worse war than we had so far,” he said.

“If during these talks and in the next rounds we will see no notice of any willingness to negotiate ... we will bring the issue back to those who have influence, and that is the Russian Federation, the US ... and to the Security Council,” he told a news conference.

The talks are the first to be held in more than two years and come amid an unprecedented cessation in hostilities sponsored by Washington and Moscow and accepted by President Bashar al-Assad’s government and most of his foes.

The truce, the first of its kind in a five-year-old war that has killed 270,000 people, has sharply reduced the fighting over the past two weeks, giving rise to hope that this diplomatic initiative will succeed where all previous efforts failed.

The talks must focus on political transition, which is the “mother of all issues”, de Mistura said, while separate taskforces would keep tackling humanitarian issues and the cessation of hostilities.

The first round of talks will end around March 24, followed by a break of 7-10 days, then a second round of at least two weeks before another recess and a third round.

“By then, we believe we should have at least a clear roadmap. I’m not saying agreement, but a clear roadmap because that’s what Syria is expecting from all of us.”

Russia is ready to coordinate its actions with the US-led coalition in Syria to push the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group out of Raqqa, Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

“We are ready to coordinate our actions with the Americans, because Raqqa is in the eastern part of Syria and the American coalition is mainly ... acting there,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying in an interview with the Ren-TV television channel.

“Perhaps, this is no secret, if I say that at some stage the Americans suggested performing a ‘division of labor’: the Russian Air Forces should concentrate on the liberation of Palmyra and the American coalition with Russian support will focus on the liberation of Raqqa,” he added.