Plans to Split Syria Will Go Nowhere

The UN envoy has proposed that the Syrian government grant autonomy to militant-held areas in Aleppo in exchange for ceasefire
Bahram Qasemi Bahram Qasemi

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi played down the seriousness of a proposal by UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura to establish an autonomous zone in the eastern parts of Aleppo, saying such plans will go nowhere.

Syria is the scene of standoff between the Syrian Army and foreign-backed militants fighting to bring down the government.

Militant-held neighborhoods in the east of Aleppo, the second biggest Syrian city, have been for months encircled by the army that is poised to retake them.

Militants outside the city have launched two unsuccessful offensives to break the government's siege and shelled the government-held western districts.

De Mistura proposed on Sunday that the Syrian government grant militant-held areas autonomy in exchange for ceasefire and called on the estimated 900 Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the east to depart to other militant-held territory in Syria.

Qasemi said in a press briefing on Monday that the Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year, has many players and largely influences the region, ISNA reported.

"He [the UN envoy] can't propose such a plan alone," he said, adding that the complexity of the conflict has prevented the implementation of many previous plans.

Asked to comment on speculations that the plan, if implemented, would be a beginning to the disintegration of Syria, Qasemi said "disintegration of Syria has lots of serious opponents and it cannot happen so easily."

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Sunday said Damascus "completely" rejects the proposal, saying it was "in violation of our sovereignty".

Speaking at a televised press conference after holding talks with de Mistura in Damascus, Muallem stressed that Damascus "can no longer accept that 275,000 of our people are held hostage by terrorists in eastern Aleppo."

The top Syrian diplomat said Damascus welcomes any Syrian-Syrian dialogue, but the UN envoy did not offer any move that could help hold such talks and said he cannot offer guarantees that a new ceasefire can take hold.

De Mistura told reporters that he believed such measures could be temporary and that Aleppo should be treated as a special case.

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