New York – Staffan de Mistura, U.N. special envoy for Syria, briefed the U.N. Security Council on Monday about the latest development and the international meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry and seven Arab nations held in Lausanne, Switzerland.
During his briefing to the council, the U.N. envoy said “new ideas were floated” during the Lausanne talks but that “significant differences” remaining on the way forward.
Russia’s permanent ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said that Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have agreed to military talks with the United States and Russia on efforts to distance Syrian opposition fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.
“Those countries did express their intention to work hard with those moderate opposition groups in order for them to be separated from al-Nusra,” Churkin told reporters.
Churkin added that Russia is ready to grant Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, fighters in eastern Aleppo an opportunity to leave the city unharmed if they agree to clearly distance themselves from the hardline Islamist group.
However, if they refuse to abandon their positions in Aleppo, they should get ready to be wiped out, Churkin said.
“If they distance themselves, then we will offer Jabhat Al-Nusra two options to choose from: either they leave the city, and Staffan de Mistura, as you know, came out with a proposal regarding this some time ago, which has not been accepted by Jabhat Al-Nusra yet, or we will have to defeat them,”Churkin elaborated.
If the Nusra fighters leave, “the understanding of Lausanne is that then the moderate opposition and the Syrian government will enter into cessation of hostilities negotiations which will make it possible to prevent further bloodshed and prevent loss of life,” he said.
Churkin described the Lausanne talks as “much more pragmatic” than in the past few weeks. Although no major breakthrough was achieved in Lausanne, it gave a much-needed impulse to advance the stalled Syrian peace process.
The U.N. ambassador added: “the discussions focused on using the momentum of Lausanne and moving forward, both in terms of trying to renew the ceasefire regime, increase humanitarian aid to Syria, in particular, around Aleppo, and attempting to advance the political process.”