UN in new push for peace in Syria

UN in new push for peace in Syria
Syria's UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has a new plan which could help bring warring parties around the negotiating table.
3 min read
01 September, 2016
Kerry and Lavrov will be consulted on the new Syria peace plan [Getty]

An "important political initiative" that could held the war in Syria is set to be unveiled soon, the United Nations said on Thursday.

A plan to draw opposing sides in Syria's war around the negotiating table is being made by the UN's Syria envoy.

"We are in the process of preparing an important political initiative," Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

Look problem in the eye

Although he would not divulge the details of the plan he said it would "look the problems in Syria in the eye" when it next meets on 13 September.

A high-level meeting on Syria is set to be held at the UN Security Council on 21 September when the plan would be shared with world powers.

"So that's the target date for making sure that everyone is actively involved in producing some positive outcome on this conflict," he said.

Successive rounds of negotiations have failed to end a conflict that has killed more than 290,000 people and forced millions from their homes during more than five years of bloodshed.

De Mistura said he hoped to bring warring parties around the negotiating table by the end of August, but instead fighting on the ground has intensified.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met in Geneva last Friday and spoke again by phone on Thursday.

"Very senior military, security and diplomatic" officials had met earlier this week to discuss the plan, de Mistura said.

Talks are expected to continue through Friday or Saturday morning, he added.

De Mistura has been trying to get warring parties to agree to a two-day ceasefire in Aleppo - through US and Russian mediation - to allow in desperately needed aid.

On Thursday he said "discussions going on now between the Americans and the Russians at a very high and very operational level go far beyond the 48-hour truce".

Ethnic cleansing

The UN has come under fire after a recent report emerged that showed the organisation had paid millions of dollars to charities and businesses run by senior figures within the Syrian regime.

This is while the regime and Russia have been found to use cluster munitions and incendiary bombs in Syria.

There has also been uproar about the forced evacuation of residents from the opposition suburb of Daraya.

On Thursday, the UN Syria envoy criticised Damascus' "strategy" of forced evacuation from Daraya following a brutal four-year government siege, warning that other besieged towns could follow.

Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva that there were "indications that after Daraya we may have other Darayas", adding that "there is clearly a strategy at the moment to move from Daraya" to other besieged areas "in a similar pattern".

De Mistura warned there were "indications that after Daraya we may have other Darayas."

He pointed to worrying signs around the besieged towns of Waer and Moadamiyat al-Sham.

"If Daraya was a shock, al-Waer is 75,000 people," he pointed out.