Qatari foreign minister says ’de-escalation zones’ are a step towards reaching a solution and not the solution itself.
Qatar’s foreign minister has said that "de-escalation zones" are not a substitute for political transition in Syria, adding that President Bashar al-Assad ought to leave office in any final peace agreement.
Speaking to Al Jazeera in Washington, DC on Monday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the de-escalation zones "are a step towards reaching a solution and not the solution itself".
"There should be a clear message that political transition is based on the Geneva I declaration, which ends with Bashar al-Assad and his regime leaving power and the establishment of a transitional authority," Al Thani said.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to Syria, has said talks between the Syrian government and opposition on ending the war are to reconvene in Geneva on May 16.
De Mistura says he hopes that an agreement reached in Astana last week between Russia, Iran and Turkey to set up the Russian-sponsored de-escalation zones will be fully implemented.
On Monday, Walid al-Moualem, Syria’s foreign minister, said there would be no role for the UN or other "international forces" in the so-called de-escalation zones but that Russia saw an observer role for its military police.
He gave no further details.
"We do not accept a role for the United Nations or international forces to monitor the agreement," he said.
Russia said on Monday that it had tabled a draft UN Security Council resolution backing the de-escalation zone deal.
A source at the UN told Russia’s Interfax news agency that "a vote on the draft will take place possibly this week".
Russia and regional power Iran have helped President Bashar al-Assad gain the military advantage against rebels fighting for six years to unseat him.
Russia has led most of the recent diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.
’Dragged on too long’
Moualem also addressed what he described as an apparent change of attitude toward Syria by the US administration.
"It seems the United States, where (President Donald) Trump has said the Syrian crisis has dragged on too long, might have come to the conclusion that there must be an understanding with Russia on a solution," he said.
He warned that if forces from Jordan, a supporter of rebel groups in southern Syria, entered the country without coordinating with Damascus, it would be considered an act of aggression, but added Syria was not about to confront Jordan.
Speaking about the military situation inside Syria, Moualem said Deir Az Zour, a city and province occupied by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in the east, was the "fundamental objective" for government forces and more important to the average Syrian than Idlib.
Asked about US backing for Kurdish groups fighting ISIL in northeast Syria, he said that what Syrian Kurds were doing against the jihadist group was "legitimate" at this stage and fell within the framework of preserving Syrian unity.
The Syrian civil war was born from unrest that started in March 2011. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed.
- The UN hopes Syria ’de-escalation zones’ will reduce violence in the war-torn country