Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Turkey Suggests Autonomous Zone in Aleppo… Russia Silent | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55362556

TOPSHOT – A Syrian man stands in the rubble of destroyed buildings following an air strike in Aleppo’s rebel-controlled neighbourhood of Karm al-Jabal on September 18, 2016.
Syria’s ceasefire was on the brink of collapsing on September 18, after a US-led coalition strike killed dozens of regime soldiers and Aleppo city was hit by its first raids in nearly a week. / AFP PHOTO / KARAM AL-MASRIKARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images

Beirut-The Syrian regime rejected on Sunday a Turkish proposal made by U.N. Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura concerning the situation in the city of Aleppo and its eastern side that is besieged by regime forces and their allies.

But, Syria’s rebuff did not burry the suggestion, which stipulates that al-Nusra Front leaves the eastern part of the city in return for the regime’s willingness to limit the siege.

Syrian opposition sources confirmed while Turkish sources hinted that Russia would accept the offer despite the regime’s objection.

On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Damascus completely rejects de Mistura’s proposal to establish an autonomous zone in east Aleppo, adding it “violates Syria’s sovereignty.”

In a press conference held Sunday evening after his meeting with de Mistura, al-Moallem said that after rebels evacuate eastern Aleppo, regime institutions should return to that part of the city.

Turkish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the Syrian regime’s rejection was not a dead end because Russians were have expressed an understanding to the proposal, which was debated at the regional and international level before being carried by de Mistura to Syria.

The sources said that Russians had mainly requested the exit of “al-Nusra” fighters and their heavy weapons from the city, which “remains possible.”

The sources added that Ankara was seriously talking with Moscow to find a realistic exit that would end the Aleppo crisis after the failure of all international efforts to do so.

Turkey has offered more than one proposal to Russia for solving the crisis, including an initiative close to de Mistura’s offer concerning an “autonomous” zone in eastern Aleppo, the sources said.

Other sources uncovered the presence of a serious endeavor to convince al-Nusra to move its members out of the besieged city in return for preventing any military presence inside.

The sources also revealed that the currently suggested proposal stipulates the presence of Free Syrian Army members along the demarcation line between the two sides of Aleppo, with the presence of regime forces on the opposite side, in the absence of any military presence in any part of the city.

The proposal also demands removing heavy weapons and facilitating the entrance of humanitarian aid and food supplies to the besieged parts of Aleppo.

The sources said delegations were being sent to get the approval of al-Nusra and other Syrian opposition factions currently present inside Aleppo with an offer to withdraw from the city in return for international guarantees.

In exchange, there are conditions demanding the exit of all foreign fighters from Aleppo, including the allies of the Iranian regime, Iraqis, the so-called Hezbollah and others.

Despite the fact that al-Nusra has not yet responded to the proposal, sources from the Syrian opposition seem optimistic.

“It is one of the bad solutions, but a necessary one to salvage the besieged civilians inside the city,” the sources said.

Turkish sources said that talks with Russia have not yet reached a “specific point.” However, Moscow was ready to offer guarantees to those willing to leave the city through the two corridors leading to the Idlib province and the north of Aleppo.

The sources said there was a possibility to reach a positive outcome with the Russians in case al-Nusra accepts to withdraw, and therefore, “convince” the regime to also pull out.