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Efforts to Form Joint Military Council between Syrian Regime, Opposition | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Head of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee (HNC) opposition group Nasr al-Hariri addresses the media aside of the Intra-Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, February 25, 2017. (Reuters, Pierre Albouy)

Moscow, Beirut – US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that his country and Russia could work together on Syria and several other issues, as sources in Moscow revealed that US-Russian efforts were underway to form a military council that would gather representatives from the Syrian regime and the opposition.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the expected council would assume several responsibilities in the transitional phase, including countering terrorism.

“Radical transformation in the Syrian file settlement and the achievement of breakthroughs in the Geneva process are largely related to cooperation between Moscow and Washington,” the sources noted.

Meanwhile, well-informed sources in the Kazakh capital told Asharq Al-Awsat that everyone “is waiting for the outcome of the US-Russian cooperation in Syria, which would bring about radical changes on the scene and reflect on the Geneva negotiations.”

“Some changes may take place during or after the next round of Astana talks expected in August, where a final agreement on de-escalation zones is likely to be announced, which means creating a new reality on the ground,” the sources said.

Meanwhile, the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on Wednesday did not see any new developments, except for continuous efforts to unify the opposition factions’ stance on the transitional period. Yet, the fate of the regime’s head, Bashar al-Assad, is so far disrupting efforts to unify the opposition.

The “Moscow Platform”, headed by Kadri Jamil, asked for more time to submit its final position on the transition, Brigadier-General Fattah Hassoun from the Free Syrian Army told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He pointed out that an agreement was reached between all the platforms on the Constitution and the elections, and the only pending issue was the transition of power.

In a news conference on Wednesday, the head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Nasr al-Hariri urged the United Nations to meet its commitments with regards to the implementation of international resolutions pertaining to the political transition in Syria.

Speaking following an extensive meeting with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, Hariri said: “We have opened the door with the Moscow/Cairo platforms. This is out of our own will, not under pressure.”

“These discussions are ongoing. We have found some common ground. These discussions are important and serious and are happening for the first time,” he added.