Iran, UN Discuss Latest Syria Developments

Iran, UN Discuss Latest Syria DevelopmentsIran, UN Discuss Latest Syria Developments

Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, conferred by phone on Thursday about latest international efforts aimed at finding a diplomatic end to the Syria conflict.

De Mistura announced "midnight Saturday" as the date for enforcing a ceasefire in the five-year-old war, originally being fought between government forces and a host of armed rebel groups but later spreading to draw in world and regional powers.

"In view of the agreement made during the recent Munich meeting, the ceasefire will start as of Saturday midnight," he was quoted as saying by ISNA. De Mistura abruptly aborted a first round of talks between Syrian groups in Geneva on Feb. 3 and urged countries in the International Syria Support Group, led by the United States and Russia, to do more preparatory work.

ISSG participants met in Munich and pushed for a ceasefire deal, resulting in an agreement on a "cessation of hostilities" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition have both said they could support, Reuters reported.

Combatants were required to say whether they would agree to the truce by noon on Friday and to halt fighting on Saturday.

  Constructive Role

The UN envoy praised Iran's constructive role in fighting terrorism and negotiating the truce, saying that all the ISSG member states should remain committed to help ensure it will witness the ultimate formation of a popular transitional government under a political process the group outlined last year.

Amir-Abdollahian said, "Any such ceasefire should take account of the redlines of Iran and the UN, and consider preventing terrorists from taking advantage of the ceasefire situation to acquire more arms and infiltrate the political process and the talks in disguise and disrupt them."  

The diplomat's remarks echoed those of President Hassan Rouhani in a phone conversation with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, calling for an effective supervision of the truce deal, saying terrorists should not use the lull in the fighting for receiving more weapons and funds. "The way the truce is monitored should be clarified and strict border controls should be put in place to prevent the movement of terrorists and the [delivery of] financial aid and arms to them," he said.

Rouhani said the Syria ceasefire agreement still contains ambiguities and shortcomings, whose elimination is necessary to do away with the prevailing concerns, Press TV reported.

"Any delivery of humanitarian aid to people in need in Syria should be carried out under the auspices of the Syrian government," he said.

The president also called for the immediate release of hostages and innocent detainees by the warring sides.

The Russian president reiterated the need for stricter controls on Syria's borders to prevent the crossing of terrorists and the transfer of weapons and logistical support to terrorist groups in Syria.

Putin said Moscow's collaboration with Syria in the fight against groups such as Islamic State terrorists and the al-Nusra Front will continue unabated during the truce.

The war has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions of Syrians.