Terrorists Should Not Represent Syrian Opposition

Terrorists Should Not Represent Syrian OppositionTerrorists Should Not Represent Syrian Opposition

A senior diplomat said terrorist groups, which the US refer to as “moderate forces”, should not be included in the opposition which is expected to hold peace talks with the Syrian government.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the statement in a phone conversation with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Friday while discussing the latest developments pertaining to international talks aimed at settling the Syrian crisis, Fars News Agency reported.

At the end of the third round of talks held in New York on December 18, participants agreed to establish a working group to distinguish terrorists from opposition forces, from a large array of groups involved in the Syria civil war, now in its fifth year.

Two previous rounds of international talks on the conflict in Syria were held in Vienna on October 30 and November 14.

Amir-Abdollahian said the conflict can be solved only when the Syrian government and the real opposition groups, dedicated to finding a diplomatic solution, engage in talks under the United Nations auspices.

In the process to solve the crisis, the deputy minister noted that “Syrian sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and the will of the people should be respected”.

Amir-Abdollahian also stressed the need for international community to adopt a “realistic approach” toward the problem, pursuing the fight against terrorism in parallel with the political process.

De Mistura praised Iran’s role in the talks on Syria, expressing optimism about the outcome of the United Nations’ initiative to bring together 20 countries, including the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran, to reach a compromise on how to solve the crisis.

“Taking into account the opinion of the Syrian people and respecting the territorial integrity and unity of Syria are among the principles of UN,” he said.

The UN envoy hoped that formal negotiations between the delegation of opposition groups and the government’s representatives would be held before the Jan. 1 deadline.

De Mistura is expected to visit major regional participants in the international talks on Syria, including Iran, before negotiations start.

The UN Security Council on December 18 adopted a resolution supporting an international roadmap for a peace process in Syria, which called for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and the formation of a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government within six months and UN-supervised “free and fair elections” within 18 months.