On Tuesday, at the end of the talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana, Russia, Turkey and Iran have issued a joint statement, establishing a trilateral mechanism to support the ceasefire in Syria and paving the way for the Geneva talks, which are scheduled for February 8. According to the statement, the Syrian opposition has agreed to participate in the future Geneva peace talks.
“The delegations of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey …support launching the talks between the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the armed opposition in Astana on January 23-24, 2017,” the statement reads.
Russia, Turkey and Iran expressed “their conviction that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it can only be solved though a political process.” The sides also said that they support the willingness of the Syrian opposition groups to take part in the next round of talks in Geneva, which should start on February 8.
Moscow, Ankara and Tehran agreed to join their efforts in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, which alongside with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) did not take part in the negotiations, as well as suggested to separate terrorists from armed oppositionists. The implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the Syrian crisis, adopted in December 2015, also was welcomed by the sides.
Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari said that he viewed the role of Turkey in the Syrian ceasefire as negative, but had to agree to cooperate to facilitate the peace process.
“In politics sometimes we have to deal with enemies to save your country, and this is what we do,” Jaafari said, adding that the negotiations were “a success.”
According to the head of the Russian delegation in Astana, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, the work of the trilateral operative group, which will monitor the ceasefire, will be started in February. Representatives of the Syrian armed opposition would be also invited to work together with the group.
Lavrentiev also said that a draft of new Syria constitution, prepared by Russian legal experts, was handed to representatives of the Syrian armed opposition, which expressed its readiness to work on the new constitution.
“It would be only correct to comprise a constitution commission that would consist of the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition [to work on the document],” Lavrentiev said, adding that this goal had not yet been achieved.
He also announced that the Syrian opposition agreed to take part in the upcoming negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, and noted that Russian military experts in Astana have begun work on separating armed opposition groups from terrorist organizations, mapping the boundary lines between areas, held by the opposition, and regions, occupied by the IS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Jaysh al-Islam militants, who headed the delegation of the Syrian armed opposition at the Astana talks, Mohammed Alloush, said the though rebels support a political solution based on UN auspices, they still demand the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and are not going to engage in any talks with Iran. He added that he had given a proposal to Russia on the ceasefire, and expects an answer within a week.
UN and Arab League Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, praised the Astana talks and noted that the UN commends Russia, Iran and Turkey for deciding to establish a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria.