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High Negotiations Committee responds to UN initiative

Date Posted: 04 February 2016

Dr. Riad Hijab stated that the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) responded positively to the UN initiative intended to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, especially after receiving guarantees from the Deputy UN Secretary General and UN special envoy to Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura.  In his written confirmation, Mr. de Mistura asserted that improvement of the humanitarian situation is a fundamental, non-negotiable right of the Syrian people, and pledged to work to achieve improvement before the start of negotiations.

Dr. Riad Hijab thanked Arab and Western countries for their support of the Syrian people and in pushing for the need to alleviate the suffering before embarking on negotiations, as well as their commitment to pursue diplomatic efforts in order to achieve articles 12 and 13 of UNSCR 2254 in relation to lifting blockades, delivery of aid, cessation of shelling populated areas, the release of detainees and a moratorium on executions.

During his news conference in Geneva yesterday evening, Wednesday 3 February 2016, Dr. Hijab pointed that despite the positive response of the HNC, the regime and its allies stepped up their military operations and doubled the number of air raids, having targeted Ghouta, Moadamiya, Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Latakia and Deir al-Zour.  Unjustifiably targeting civilians in refugee camps, leading to more deaths as a result of the indiscriminate use of barrel and cluster bombs, missiles and poison gas, in addition to appalling conditions endured by the cruelty of the siege imposed by the regime and its allies on many towns and cities.

As a response to this escalation, especially in targeting civilians, and the horrific massacres in the cities of Anadan, Hraytan and other towns and villages in the northern regions of Aleppo and southern Homs, on Tuesday and Wednesday 2ndand 3rd of February, Dr. Hijab announced the withdrawal of the HNC negotiating delegation from Geneva today, 4 February 2016, until such time an appropriate atmosphere is possible for the start of serious negotiations which would lead to the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive authority.

Dr. Hijab emphasised that, "it’s time to put considerable pressure on the regime and its allies to stop their crimes and violations against the Syrian people. The international community should take the necessary action to end this brutal aggression against our people."

He added, "I received a number of international guarantees and UN pledges to stop the massacres committed against the Syrian people, and for the implementation of Articles 12 and 13 of Security Council resolution 2254- focusing on lifting the siege on cities, the release of detainees and the immediate cessation of indiscriminate shelling.  I think the time has come for the international community to fulfil its obligations and pressure the regime and its allies to stop these heinous war crimes committed against the Syrian people before the start of negotiations."  He further stressed that the, “HNC is willing to once again cooperate with international efforts to begin the process of political transition as soon as the international community takes decisive steps to stop the regime's crimes and provides for a secure environment for the negotiating process, which we hope will be organised before the re-scheduled date set by de Mistura.”

Dr. Hijab announced that he had instructed all members of the HNC delegation to leave Geneva, pending the cessation of bombardment targeting civilians, the lifting of the siege and the delivery of aid.  He noted that he would call a meeting of the HNC to discuss the latest developments and the means to achieve UN resolutions before resuming the political track.

Dr. Hijab concluded: "The regime has proved for the second time (following Geneva in 2014) that it does not wish to pursue a peaceful solution.  It has knowingly sabotaged the political process and continues its crimes against the Syrian people.  I firmly believe that the international community should not offer this regime yet another chance under the pretext of testing its seriousness and intentions.  But in the event that these violations continue, and the international community continues to overlook them, we will need to reassess our position. "