New York, SANA – Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, stressed the importance of confronting terrorism in general and the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters in particular.
Al-Jaafari’s remarks came during a speech delivered on behalf the Syrian delegation participating in the United Nations High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member State which kicked off on Thursday at the UN headquarters under the theme “Strengthening international cooperation to combat the evolving threat of terrorism”.
He said that confronting terrorism and extremism is a collective international mission that requires a true political will by all governments of the world.
The Permanent Representative added that the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into Syria and Iraq constituted an unprecedented phenomenon on the international level in terms of the number of terrorists or the number of the countries from which they came.
“ The UN reports confirmed that tens of thousands of terrorists have flown from 101 UN member states,” he said.
The Syrian diplomat revealed that the number of the foreign terrorists with European nationality who fought in Syria reached more than 12,000 terrorists; most of them were from Britain, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
Al-Jaafari stressed that any collective international effort to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and the risks posed by their return to their homelands or any other states must be based on acknowledging that the emergence and expansion of this dangerous phenomenon have been a result of failure of the international community to bear its responsibilities from the very beginning.
“We would not have been sitting here in this hall to discuss what has become known as the danger of the return of the foreign terrorist fighters if the governments of the UN member states have activated early alarm systems and exchanged data about extremists,” said al-Jaafari
He indicated that the Syrian government has information and confessions which intersect with UN secret or public reports confirming that there are governments and intelligence agencies have been involved in facilitation of recruiting, financing, arming and training foreign terrorist fighters.
Al-Jaafari affirmed that countering terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters depends on taking specific measures including the establishment of an international executive mechanism comprising representatives of governmental institutions and agencies specialized in fighting terrorism and extremist mentality whose main task is to identify the future legislative, legal, intelligence, social, educational and media procedures to be taken to achieve that end.
Al-Jaafari also underlined the key role of the INTERPOL in this mechanism, stressing the need for establishing joint coordination and liaison centers in all countries to exchange data on extremists and foreign terrorist groups.
He called for monitoring the movements of returning foreign fighters and rehabilitate them through a process that includes guaranteeing accountability and just trial that respect the sovereignty of law.
The Syrian diplomat reiterated the Syrian government is open to exchange data and cooperate with states which respect the sovereignty of Syria, its independence and territorial integrity and whose political and diplomatic relations are mainly based on principles of international law, especially those related to non-intervention in other states’ domestic affairs.
Commenting on the Assistant of the Turkish Foreign Minister’s allegations, al-Jaafari said that any Turkish military action inside the Syrian territory is a flagrant aggression and all the Turkish troops in Syria are considered as occupying forces.
He noted to the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters who came from Central Asia and Europe and entered Syria through the Turkish territories.
Al-Jaafari said that if Turkey has been serious about fighting terrorism, as it has been claiming, it wouldn’t have left borders opened over the past years for terrorists who were trained and armed in camps established on its land to be sent to Syria in coordination with certain governments.”
For his part, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “Terrorism and violent extremism undermine international peace and security. They divide communities, exacerbate conflicts, and destabilize entire regions. They hamper our efforts to promote and protect human rights and are an obstacle to sustainable development.”
The two-day conference aims to build new partnership for multilateral cooperation to strengthen the international community’s counter-terrorism efforts.