Damascus, SANA- Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed that the Syrian government supports the memorandum on the creation of four de-escalation zones in Syria which was signed at the end of the fourth round of Astana talks on Syria.
“You followed up what was achieved at Astana 4, particularly with regard to signing a memorandum on establishing four de-escalation zones in Syria,” al-Moallem said in a press conference on Monday, adding “the Syrian Government supported what came in the memorandum based on its keenness on stopping the bloodshed and to improve the living conditions of the Syrian population and in the hope that all armed parties will be committed to the provisions of the memorandum. But if any violation takes place, the Syrian army will be prepared to respond in a decisive manner.”
He went on saying “of course, we look forward that this memorandum will achieve its intentions which are basically separating the armed groups which signed the agreement of the cessation of hostilities on 30/12/2016 from Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS and the other groups affiliated to them.”
Regarding the political track, al-Moallem said that the Syrian government has always been present in the Geneva meetings, noting that the date for the next round of these meetings hasn’t been set yet, adding that unfortunately the Geneva track remains at a standstill because there is no patriotic opposition that thinks about Syria instead of receiving instructions from its operators.
He said that the alternative that is being pursued is national reconciliations, affirming that Syria is extending its hand to all those who want to resolve their status include those who bear arms, noting that several reconciliations have been achieved across Syria, adding “today, a reconciliation started in Barzeh and al-Qaboun and talks are under way in order to evacuate al-Yarmouk Camp from gunmen, and I think that the Syrian people have felt the importance and the effectiveness of these reconciliations.”
Al-Moallem said that there has been much talks about de-escalation zones and certain sides made statements that are completely incorrect, adding “we, thanks to the resilience of our people and the heroism of our army, are keen on preserving our national unity and Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and we are exerting all possible efforts to prevent the foreign interference in its affairs.”
Al-Moallem asserted that there will not be international forces under the supervision of the UN, and the Russian guarantor clarified that military police forces will be deployed, in addition to monitoring centers, noting that the memo on de-escalation zones has a duration of six months that can be renewed if this experiment proves successful and produces the desired results.
He stressed that in all proposed de-escalation zones there are groups which signed the agreement and there are Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS terrorist organizations and other terrorist groups linked to them, and what is required is separating the terrorist groups which signed from those which didn’t sign, these groups should leave those zones and they are not welcomed if they came to the areas controlled by our forces.
“The guarantors should help the factions which signed the cessation of hostilities agreement and desire to drive away Jabhat al-Nusra from their areas,” al-Moallem added.
Al-Moallem said that Jordan’s role form the beginning of the crisis till today is known for us, not to mention the Military Operations Command (MOC), asserting that “if the Jordanian forces entered without coordination with the Syrian government they will be considered as hostile forces.”
Regarding the French elections, al-Moallem said “We respect the choice of the French people, and we don’t raise hopes on the European role, so how will we raise hopes on the French role? You remember that in 2011, I deleted Europe from the map as we haven’t felt any role by Europe, except a destructive role which is automatically linked to the US.”
On the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is not part of the memorandum, carrying out attacks, al-Moallem said that it’s natural for al-Nusra to be left out of the memo as it’s a terrorist organization, saying “the Syrian Government is not afraid of its right to respond for any violation of the memorandum of the de-escalation zones and it shoulders the guarantor states the first responsibility…we are confident that the Russian and the Iranian guarantors are performing their duty in implementing this memorandum.”
He added “I don’t exclude the possibility of violating the memorandum of the de-escalation areas by Turkey which is one of the guarantor states who signed the memorandum.”
On whether there’s concern about turning de-escalation zones into “safe zones” gradually, al-Moallem said the two concepts are different, as the latter is about safe zones set up and maintained by the UN which is unacceptable.
On the political prices paid by all sides to reduce the US escalation and reach the Astana agreement, al-Moallem asserted that Syria hasn’t paid any price, but it seems that the Americans realized that they were rash in carrying out their aggression.
On the fact that Raqqa is excluded from the memorandum, the Minister said that the memo excluded it along with other areas where ISIS terrorists are active, as the Syrian Arab Army will continue fighting ISIS and al-Nusra, adding that the presence of ISIS and al-Nusra in certain areas would make it difficult to expand the de-escalation zones later.