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HNC commits to supporting sincere international efforts aimed at ending bloodshed in Syria

Date Posted: 11 March 2016

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) confirms its participation in the approaching round of negotiations due to take place in Geneva on the 14th of March 2016.  This decision further demonstrates the HNC’s commitment in supporting sincere international efforts aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria and finding a political solution.

The HNC negotiating delegation will focus their efforts on the agenda outlined by the Committee, which includes:  negotiating on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué (2012) and other international agreements calling for the establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive authority, the preservation of Syrian territorial integrity, the restoration of state institutions whilst restructuring security and military institutions, rejection of all forms of terrorism and the establishment of a pluralistic system which is representative of all the Syrian people; with no role for Assad and his clique in any future political arrangements.

The HNC reaffirms that it has not set preconditions for their participation in the upcoming negotiations.  It is however stressing the need to act in accordance with international resolutions, and for the immediate, unconditional adherence to these resolutions.  The HNC continues to point out that the true obstacle to the implementation of the resolutions is the regime and its allies, who continue in their attempts to set preconditions, specifically, those in connection to the immediate and unconditional implementation of articles 12, 13 and 14 of UNSCR 2254. This calls for:  lifting the blockades on besieged areas, providing access for humanitarian assistance to all those in need, releasing detainees and prisoners of conscience, arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, with particular emphasis to women and children, halting bombardment against civilians and civilian targets, the cessation of indiscriminate use of weapons, including artillery and aerial bombardment, and finally, the return of refugees and displaced persons.  Notably the temporary truce has not succeeded in accomplishing any of these objectives. Consequently, the international community must be clear and forthwith in their resolve to relieve the suffering of the Syrian people, who continue to face aerial bombardment, a punishing siege, brutal arbitrary detention and forced displacement.

In response to questions about the effectiveness of participating in the planned negotiations despite repeated violations of the truce and continued suffering of the Syrian people, the General Coordinator of the HNC, Dr. Riad Hijab said:  "We are not testing the regime and its allies’ intentions.  We are fully aware of the crimes they have committed and of their preparations for further ground and aerial escalation in the period ahead; however, our concern for the moment is representing the just cause of the Syrian people internationally, and to take advantage of opportunities to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.  We believe in the separation of humanitarian, political and military tracks of the Syrian revolution.  It is indefensible to bargain with the suffering of the Syrian people in exchange for political advantage."

Dr. Hijab believes that the chances of reaching an agreement are slim, given that the regime is continuing to exploit the suffering of the Syrian people to avoid inevitable outcomes of the political process.  He highlighted the fact that the regime continues to follow the same hostile policy pursued at the first negotiations, held in February 2014; when the then international envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, attributed the failure of the negotiations to the regime's tactics and refusal to discuss the points included in the negotiating agenda.

Dr. Hijab stressed that it is clear the regime continues unabated in its campaign of war crimes and violations of the fundamental rights of the Syrian people, in an effort to derail the political process and to exclude the revolution and the opposition from a diplomatic, political track. Shifting the narrative to Da’esh instead, despite the fact that there is clear collusion between this terrorist organisation and the regime itself.