Russia, Turkey and Iran – who form the Astana trio – have announced their intention to hold another round of peace talks on Syria, according to a joint statement following the third meeting of the Constitutional Committee of Syria held in Geneva yesterday.
The three guarantor countries expressed their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, agreeing to “continue cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate Daesh/ISIL, the Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or Daesh/ISIL and other terrorist groups as designated by the UN Security Council while ensuring the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
Moscow, Ankara and Tehran also condemned the seizure and transfer of Syrian oil revenues between a US-licensed company and “the illegitimate entity as part of its separatist agenda”, referring to the YPG, the Syrian-Kurdish offshoot of the PKK terrorist group.
They went on to denounce “the continuing Israeli military attacks in Syria in violation of international law and international humanitarian law and undermining the sovereignty of Syria and neighbouring countries as well as endangering the stability and security in the region,” and rejected “unilateral sanctions adopted amid the pandemic” which are in contravention of international law and humanitarian law and the UN Charter.
Formed last year with its first round of talks, the Constitutional Committee is a considered central part of the UN’s peace plan for Syria, which was defined by Security Council Resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015. The second round of talks, planned for late November, never materialised due to disagreements on the agenda and there were further delays owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The first meeting of the Astana process was in held in Turkey in January 2017. The parties maintain that it is not an alternative to the UN sponsored Geneva Process but a complementary effort in facilitating it.