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UN chief calls for ‘endgame’ talks in Syria

October 26, 2019 at 7:00 pm

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres holds a press conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States on 1 August 2019 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on Friday lauded a recent reduction in fighting in northeastern Syria and urged the countries involved to “start seriously discussing the endgame” to an eight-year-old conflict, Anadolu reports.

Answering a question from Anadolu Agency, Guterres noted a ratcheting down of the conflict in the region following this week’s deal between Turkey and Russia.

“Our main objectives were very simple: no escalation in conflicts and I’m happy that we have no information of any conflict taking part at the present moment in northeastern Syria,” Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Guterres said it was time to map a political way forward for the country after more than eight years of fighting with the gathering of Syria’s Constitutional Committee, which is set to meet in Geneva for the first time next week.

“It is clear to me that what has happened in northern Syria shows that it’s time to start seriously discussing the endgame, and if that is the case, the political process became more important than ever,” said Guterres.

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“Our total commitment now is to make sure that the Constitutional Committee will start its work in Geneva as a first step for a political solution that hopefully will lead to the end of this tragic chapter in the life of the Syrian people.”

Guterres also addressed fears over members of Daesh terror group escaping from YPG-controlled detention centers in northeastern Syria during the military operation launched by Turkey in the region earlier this month.

“There was a limited number of fighters that managed to flee and we have asked all the parties involved to make sure that everything is done for that not to happen more, and we believe the international community needs to find a solution for those that have committed crimes to be effectively made accountable,” Guterres said.

Launched on Oct. 9, the Operation Peace Spring aims to YPG elements from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity. YPG is Syrian offshoot of PKK terror group.

Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with northern Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols there.