Consultations With Allies on Syria Crisis

Consultations With Allies on Syria CrisisConsultations With Allies on Syria Crisis

Consultations are underway with Russia and Syria to arrive at a unanimous decision on which militant groups fighting in Syria should be identified as the opposition and which ones as terrorists, a Foreign Ministry official said.

At the end of the second round of international talks on Syria last month in Vienna, attended by 18 major western and Middle Eastern countries, a joint statement outlined a political process leading to elections in Syria within two years.

Under the statement, as a first step in the process, opposition fighters must be sorted out from terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State and al-Nusra Front.

"With regard to the fight against terrorism and pursuant to Clause 6 of the Vienna Communiqué, it was reiterated that Daesh [an Arabic acronym for IS], Nusra and other terrorist groups, as designated by the UN Security Council, and further, as agreed by the participants and endorsed by the UN Security Council, must be defeated," the statement said.

Mohammad Irani, the director general of Foreign Ministry's Department for Middle East and North Africa, said it was agreed in the Vienna meeting that every participant present a list of groups it regards as terrorists to the United Nations.

"We are working on the issue, but the list has not been prepared yet. We are consulting with Russia and Syria in this regard and will announce our decision after these consultations," Irani told IRNA on Sunday.

Tehran and Moscow support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war against insurgent groups, which are in turn backed by the US and its western and regional allies.

According to the statement, Jordan "agreed to help develop among intelligence and military community representatives a common understanding of groups and individuals for possible determination as terrorists."

  Time-Consuming Process

As participants in the talks hold differing positions on the Syria war and the armed groups involved, reaching consensus on the issue would be difficult and "time-consuming", Irani predicted.

In the diplomat's view, the success of negotiations hinges on two issues: first, demonstration of collective resolve by all players involved and second, the progress of Syrian-Syrian dialogue.

The statement set a January 1 target date for UN-sponsored negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition representatives.

It provided for the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria "to come into effect as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps toward the transition under UN auspices on the basis of the Geneva Communiqués".   

Irani said "significant gains" have been made in the Syria talks for settling over four years of conflict in the Arab country.