Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Arab, Western Countries Press for Accountability in Syria

Arab, Western Countries Press for Accountability in Syria

Saturday, 5 March, 2022 - 07:45
UN envoy Geir Pedersen with the envoys in Washington (US embassy on Twitter)

The Syrian revolution celebrates its 11th anniversary next week, yet the Syrian people continue to suffer from the "war machine" and fighting that have been ongoing since March 15, 2011, amid Arab and Western calls for a political solution to the crisis.

In a joint statement, 13 Arab and Western delegates agreed during a meeting in Washington to remain committed to the "pursuit of a political resolution to the Syrian crisis in accordance with UNSCR 2254 that will protect the rights and dignity of all Syrians."

The statement published by the US State Department stated that with the approach of the 11th commemoration of the peaceful Syrian uprising on March 15, "we acknowledge the continued suffering of the Syrian people, which is unacceptable and must end."

The participants reiterated their previous positions, calling for a nationwide ceasefire and respect for international humanitarian law, and stressing "the importance of unhindered access to life-saving humanitarian assistance through all modalities," including through the re-authorization of cross-border delivery of humanitarian assistance, to which there is no alternative, as well as "cross-line aid and early recovery projects consistent with UNSCR 2585."

The representatives of the Arab League, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iraq, Jordan, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UK, and the US reaffirmed their support for the "unity and territorial integrity of Syria and our commitment to the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

"We welcomed the briefing of UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen, and took note of his efforts to build momentum, including through the step-for-step process, in accordance with our strong support to advance a comprehensive and inclusive political solution according to UNSCR 2254, as well as the implementation of all its aspects."

The representatives reiterated the need to reach concrete outcomes from the seventh round of the upcoming March session of Constitutional Committee, stressing "we will continue to press for accountability," especially for the most serious crimes perpetrated in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons, as well as to press for the release of the arbitrarily detained and a full accounting of the missing.

They also welcomed ongoing efforts to prosecute crimes committed in Syria. We urged continued support to Syrian refugees and host countries until "Syrians can voluntarily return home with safety and dignity in line with UNHCR standards."

Meanwhile, combating terrorism and the spread of terrorist and armed groups in Syrian society remains an issue that threatens the region and the international community. This comes in light of the lack of security and safety standards and the presence of foreign forces on the Syrian territory.

A report by the human rights organization Syrians for Truth and Justice, published by al-Monitor, lists 25 former ISIS terrorists currently serving within the Syrian National Army (SNA) ranks.

In a report published in June 2021, the group documented 27 fighters, including 11 officers, in the ranks of ISIS terrorist organization who are now serving in other military forces.

The founder of Syrians for Truth and Justice, Bassam al-Ahmed, said that whenever the organization publishes reports like this, Turkey and the armed groups claim they will investigate violations, but this is actually for the consumption of the media and nothing changes on the ground.

Ahmed told Monitor that the most dangerous thing is that the SNA controls detention centers in an area that Turkey claims is a safe area for civilians, but this area became safe for the "former ISIS members, not for civilians or the Kurds."

The 2021 report pointed to two SNA leaders from eastern Deir Ez-Zor helping ISIS fighters flee towards SNA-held areas, noting that tribal affiliation is a strong marker of identity in the region.

Editor Picks