HNC Delegation Discusses Impact of Siege on Eastern Qalamoun with Rebel & Civil Representatives

Members of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to the seventh round of the Geneva talks discussed the latest political and military developments in eastern Qalamoun with representatives of civil and military groups in the area on Wednesday.

The representatives said that eastern Qalamoun has been subjected to crippling siege by the ISIS extremist group and the Assad regime.

The Assad regime has recently launched a large-scale offensive on civilian areas and FSA positions in eastern Qalamoun in rural Damascus backed by the Russian army. The Assad regime is seeking a repeat of the scenario that took place in other liberated areas across Syria and which ended with mass forced displacement of the local population changing the demographic landscape in those areas.

Following the launch of the offensive in eastern Qalamoun, the Assad regime closed down the only route to the town of Jeroud. Representatives of the residents in the area said that the move is aimed at putting “more pressure on civilians to agree to the settlement that Russia is trying to impose on the local population.”

The two sides discussed the ongoing negotiations between the FSA groups in the area on one side and the Assad regime and Russia on the other. The representatives stressed that “their agreeing to negotiate with the regime does not mean surrender and that they will continue to defend their areas.”

The representatives said that Russia couldn’t claim to be a guarantor of any agreement as it continues to support the regime and advance its interests.

Members of the HNC delegation stressed that they raised the situation in both Qalamoun and Arsal before active players in Syria and UN organizations in meetings in Geneva.

“We are exerting every effort so that the cease-fire agreement covers all Syria, not only Dara’a,” said George Sabra, Head of the HNC mission to Geneva.

Sabra added that the Assad regime’s pursuit of negotiations with the Syrian people to reach the so-called “reconciliation deals” is the result of its failure to achieve any military progress on the ground and the revival of political process by major players in Syria.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 13.07.2017)


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