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Sources: Syria Envoy Makes ‘Partial Breakthrough’ in Constitutional Committee

Sources: Syria Envoy Makes ‘Partial Breakthrough’ in Constitutional Committee

Friday, 28 June, 2019 - 06:45
UN Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen gestures as he speaks to the media following a UN Security Council meeting on Syria at UN headquarters in New York, April 30, 2019. (AP)

United Nations Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen received, thanks to Russia’s help, the Syrian regime’s approval on a suggestion to form the long-awaited constitutional committee, tasked with drafting the post-war constitution, informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday.

The UN envoy considers that such breakthrough should pave the way for a possible deal to end the eight-year war in the country.

As previously agreed, the committee would be formed of three groups, each of 50 members: the first representing the regime, the second representing the opposition and the third representing the civil society, said the sources.

However, the UN drive to set up this committee has been bogged down in disagreements with Bashar Assad’s regime on the makeup of the body.

Damascus had asked to name six of the civil society representatives taking part in the negotiations.

However, the informed sources said that after Moscow intervened, the Syrian authorities finally agreed to name only two members of the group.

“Such a development constitutes a partial breakthrough,” the sources said, adding that the names should be revealed soon.

On Thursday, the United States said it was time to scrap the 17-month effort to form the constitutional committee for Syria and come up with other diplomatic initiatives to bring the country closer to peace.

US acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that progress toward forming the new body remained "out of reach" and that the committee was unlikely to ever be formed.

"The time has come for the council to encourage special envoy Pedersen to try other routes to achieving the political solution," Cohen told the council.

Meanwhile, chiefs of global humanitarian organizations warned on Thursday of a “humanitarian nightmare” in Idlib, after launching a worldwide campaign in solidarity with civilians under fire the northwestern province.

The 11 chiefs said 3 million civilians, among them 1 million children, are in imminent and mortal danger from the escalating violence in Idlib and surrounding areas.

In a direct video address, the humanitarian leaders emphasized that civilians face the constant threat of violence and armed conflict and desperately need protection. They also deplored the devastating impact of the fighting on hospitals, schools and markets.

The regime had relaunched earlier this year an offensive in the opposition-held northwest, killing more than 120 people and forcing more than 150,000 to flee.

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