Syria’s ‘Relative Calm’ Not Seized Upon to Build Credible Political Process, Special Envoy Tells Security Council
Outlining the deepening humanitarian crisis in Syria and the threat of escalating violence, the Special Envoy for that country told the Security Council today he regretted that, during two years of frozen front lines, the international community had not seized upon the window provided by that relative calm to build a credible political process.
Geir O. Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, recalling his previous statements to the Council, pointed out that for two years the front lines were frozen — and that this relative calm “provided the window to build a credible political process”. So far, this opportunity has not been seized. “We need to be honest about the mismatch between the scale of our collective political efforts and the scale of the challenge at hand”, he stressed.
Detailing the troubling signs of military escalation, he also said that the degree of fragmentation in Syria, the region and internationally prevents the international community from addressing this conflict in a comprehensive manner. Yet, “this is the only way to avoid another dangerous collapse”, he emphasized.
Highlighting the humanitarian situation, he underscored the need for all Council members to support the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2642 (2022), including the cross-border and cross-line modalities. With plans on hold for the ninth Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, he added that the key challenge facing the Committee “is not the venue, but the lack of progress on substance”. On this, he urged increased support for the political will, faster pace and better working methods that will allow the Committee to “become credible”.
Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, gave Council members an overview of the recent increase in violence in northern Syria and the resulting cost of civilian lives. She noted reports detailing preparations for a possible military operation in northern Syria and said displacement is already happening. Violence is impeding the United Nations ability to operate and the cross-line mission to Ras al Ayn was postponed due to increased hostilities, despite all the necessary approvals and preparation.
In addition, Syria was experiencing one of the lowest wheat harvests on record and the second failed wheat harvest in two years, she said, also describing fuel shortages, radically reduced access to electricity and a water crisis across the country. As always, the economic crisis disproportionately affects women, girls, boys and people with disabilities, she pointed out. Yet, funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan currently stands at only 24 per cent of the requested funds. She called for increased humanitarian funding, especially for early recovery and livelihood programmes.
In the ensuing debate, many Council members stressed the need to move the political process forward amid the country’s deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The representative of Albania said the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen because the political transition is paralysed. He deplored the actions of the Syrian regime and its supporters that prevented the Constitutional Committee’s ninth session from being held in Geneva last month. “Those who derail this process must know that they keep the country’s future hostage,” he said.
The United States’ representative said the absence of political progress and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Syria should obligate the Council to come together to hold the Assad regime accountable. Expressing concern with the delays to advance the Constitutional Committee process, he called for an immediate resumption of the process. While the Russian Federation has repeatedly told the Council the peace process must be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led, a stance with which the United States agrees, the Russian Federation has not practised what it preaches, he observed.
Refuting that, the representative of the Russian Federation said Syria’s long-term stability and security can be established only through the full restoration of its sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, along with the cessation of the illegal foreign military presence. He condemned the continuing air strikes by the Israeli Air Force against various targets in Syria and noted that the United States’ occupation of parts of Syria and its strikes on them belong in the same category of violations. The Constitutional Committee must meet regularly and in optimal conditions, he added.
Syria’s representative said the Government is making great efforts to promote national reconciliation, rehabilitate its infrastructure and its services, and create conditions for the safe return of refugees. Syria faces great challenges in coping with the humanitarian situation as Western countries politicize the humanitarian work and violate guidelines. However, the United States and its Western allies continue to impose unilateral and coercive measures that cause suffering for the Syrian people, he said.
Also reporting that the Russian Federation and Iran reaffirmed their commitment to Syria at a 19 July summit, he called for an end to illegitimate foreign presences in Syria, systemic Israeli attacks and the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. The sovereignty of Syria must be guaranteed, he emphasized, demanding that States that sponsor armed groups pay reparations to the Syrian people.
The representative of Iran underscored that political circumstances should not prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the Syrian people. As such, the occupation must end, and Syria's full sovereignty restored. The Council must abandon its double standard and condemn unequivocally Israel's aggression and terrorist attacks on Syria’s territory. The United States’ presence in the north‑east of Syria, under the pretext of combating terrorism, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Türkiye’s delegate pointed out that his country’s longest land border — 911 kilometres — is with Syria. Thus, the protection of its territorial integrity and unity is indispensable to Türkiye. Eliminating the threat posed by terrorist organizations in Syria requires joint efforts, he underscored, pointing out that PKK/YPG [Kurdish Workers’ Party] continues to attack Syrian civilians, as well as Turkish citizens, within his country’s borders, using the very weapons provided to them to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh. The real fight against Da’esh can and must be carried out only by legitimate actors, he stressed.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Ireland (also for Norway), Gabon (also for Ghana and Kenya), France, India, Norway, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Mexico, United Kingdom and China.
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.
GEIR O. PEDERSEN, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, recalled that, since early 2020, he had reported to the Council that the front lines were frozen — and that this relative calm “provided the window to build a credible political process”. So far, this opportunity has not been seized. He also expressed concern over troubling signs of military escalation in recent months, detailing August strikes attributed to a wide range of actors. “An escalatory cycle could see events further unravel,” he stressed, underlining the cost for civilians and the threat to international peace and security given the international nature of many of the latest clashes. Highlighting the various diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation, he expressed hope that these efforts can unite to restore the calm across Syria and achieve a nationwide ceasefire, which also requires parallel efforts to address the extensive presence of listed terrorist groups in the country.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, he underscored the importance of all Council members’ support for the implementation of all aspects of resolution 2642 (2022), including the cross-border and cross-line modalities and assistance with early recovery. Further, any humanitarian effects of sanctions that could exacerbate the plight of ordinary Syrians must be avoided and mitigated, particularly in terms of overcompliance. He also emphasized the need for a political process that moves steadily forward, noting that “we do not have that at present”. Recalling his July briefing regarding why plans for the ninth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee are on hold, he detailed recent engagement with Russian, Iranian and Turkish senior officials and voiced hope that the Committee will soon reconvene in Geneva. He added, however, that the key challenge facing the Committee “is not the venue, but the lack of progress on substance”. On this, he urged increased support for the political will, faster pace and better working methods that will allow the Committee to “become credible”.
On the issue of missing persons — “an enduring source of suffering for tens of thousands of individuals from all over Syria” — he stressed that families have a right to know the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. The Secretary-General will shortly release a study, commissioned by the General Assembly, that points the way forward on this issue by proposing pathways to fulfil the right to know the truth. Spotlighting the challenges facing the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015), he expressed regret that the international community has not taken advantage of two years of relative calm to advance the political process further. While work will continue to resolve issues, he stressed: “We need to be honest about the mismatch between the scale of our collective political efforts and the scale of the challenge at hand”. The degree of fragmentation in Syria, the region and internationally prevents the international community from addressing this conflict in a comprehensive manner, but “this is the only way to avoid another dangerous collapse”, he emphasized.
JOYCE MSUYA, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, highlighting the recent increase in violence in northern Syria, reported that drone strikes and shelling resulted in civilian casualties, including, an attack in Al Hasakeh on 18 August that killed four civilian women and girls and an attack on a market in Al Bab city on 19 August that killed 13 civilians, including 4 boys and 1 girl. Noting reports about preparations for a possible military operation in northern Syria, she said displacement is already happening and violence is impeding the United Nations ability to operate. Further, the cross-line mission to Ras al Ayn was postponed due to increased hostilities, despite all the necessary approvals and preparation. At Al Hol camp, there have been least 26 murders, including those of 20 women, and reports of sexual violence continue, some perpetrated by the camp’s guards. However, durable solutions for the people in Al Hol exist, as demonstrated on 12 August by the Iraqi Government which repatriated 151 families — mainly female-headed households and highly vulnerable people — to Jeddah in Ninewa Governorate. In addition, 73 internally displaced families left Al Hol on 14 August, returning to various areas in Syria’s Deir-ez-Zor Governorate.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that last month’s wheat harvest in Syria was one of the lowest on record and the second failed wheat harvest in two years, she said. Fuel shortages and radically reduced access to electricity are having a crippling effect on the population and is exacerbated by the water crisis across the country, which is affecting access to sufficient and safe drinking water and irrigation, as well as water to produce food and generate power. As always, the economic crisis disproportionately affects women, girls, boys and people with disabilities, particularly their mobility and their access to basic services, including to reproductive health and protection services. At least 26 per cent of the overall request for humanitarian assistance in Syria aims to implement early recovery and resilience programmes. At least 228 projects have received $333 million to implement early recovery and resilience activities, representing 30 per cent of the funds requested.
Nonetheless, funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan currently stands at only 24 per cent of the requested funds, she continued, calling for increased humanitarian funding, especially to early recovery and livelihood programmes. Funding of mine action programmes, especially clearance, is also critical. Since December 2021, over 1 million square metres of agricultural land had been cleared in rural Damascus, she said, calling for increased funding to scale up such programmes. Regarding progress on cross-line assistance, she said that in the north-west, the sixth cross-line mission to Sarmada, in Idleb Governorate, was completed on 4 and 5 August. The United Nations remains committed to people in Rukban and needs full access to assess their humanitarian needs and provide regular humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian community is planning a multisectoral response that includes vaccinations, she said, calling on all parties to support that plan and facilitate immediate humanitarian access and assistance to people in the camp.
Recalling her visit late last month to Gaziantep and Hatay in Türkiye to review the cross-border humanitarian response, she said affected women in Idleb told her about the dismal humanitarian conditions in north-west Syria and their need for support to get back on their feet and better access to education for their children. There must be meaningful resources, and sustained, regular and predictable access from all parties. "If we do not act now, a generation of Syrian children might be lost. It is critical that this Council shares responsibility for humanitarians’ life-saving work in Syria,” she said.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) said the lack of progress and deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Syria should obligate the Council to come together to hold the Assad regime accountable. Yet, Council unity on Syria is impossible because of one member that puts its narrow interests ahead of humanitarian needs. Expressing concern with the delays to advance the Constitutional Committee process, he called for an immediate resumption of the process. The Russian Federation has repeatedly told the Council the peace process must be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led, he noted, adding that the United States agrees with that stance. Yet, the Russian Federation has not practised what it preaches. There is more to resolution 2254 (2015). For example, the international community needs to see concrete steps that create conditions for the release of individuals from prison, as well as conditions for granting amnesty. These actions should continue, no matter the status of the Constitutional Committee. He urged all members of the Council to implement resolution 2254 (2015) and resolution 2642 (2022), noting that his country has given $900 million in humanitarian aid this year to Syria. The Russian Federation has been obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid, he said, calling on all parties to support the movement of humanitarian aid in all modalities. The Assad regime and Russian Federation cannot continue to impede the access of aid. He urged the Council to support all cross-line and cross-border aid, he emphasized.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said long-term stability and security in Syria can be established only through the full restoration of Syria's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, and the cessation of the illegal foreign military presence. He condemned the continuing air strikes by the Israeli Air Force against various targets in Syria, noting that the United States’ occupation of parts of Syria and its strikes on them belong in the same category of violations. Such illegal and irresponsible actions are a gross violation of fundamental norms of international law and must be stopped. Moreover, the security threats to Syria and for the entire region are related to the continuing hotbeds of terrorism, which have found refuge on territory not under Damascus’ control. Underscoring the critical need for progress in the Syrian political process, he said his delegation held extensive consultations with Mr. Pedersen and confirmed the need to continue direct inter-Syrian direct dialogue with the United Nations support within the framework of resolution 2254 (2015). The Constitutional Committee must meet regularly and in optimal conditions. His delegation will continue to contribute to furthering that Committee's work so that Syrians themselves, without external interference, can reach agreement on constitutional reform, he said.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), also speaking for Norway, said that it is “deeply disturbing” that many of the attacks appeared to target civilians or occur near locations of a civilian character. All parties must comply with international humanitarian law. Spotlighting soaring food prices, rising heat and critically low water supplies, he said that, while resolution 2642 (2022) allows the cross‑border mechanism’s vital work to continue for six months, the Council must confirm the decision to further extend its mandate. This mechanism remains a critical, irreplaceable lifeline for millions, he added. Speaking in his national capacity, he expressed concern over the continuing escalation of hostilities in northern Syria and stressed that international humanitarian law is clear on the point that any attack must comply with the principles of distinction and proportionality. He also expressed regret that the ninth round of the Constitutional Committee did not occur in July following the Syrian Government’s decision not to participate. Rejecting any attempts to undermine the Special Envoy’s efforts to facilitate a Syrian-led and -owned political process, he urged the Syrian Government to put the best interests of its people first and engage constructively with the Special Envoy. Further, he recalled the European Union’s position that there will be no normalization with Damascus until an inclusive political solution is firmly under way.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, echoed the Special Envoy’s appeal for parties and key stakeholders to shield Syria from undue external pressure that could jeopardize efforts to achieve peace and stability. Instead, these actors should “strive to inject life into the political process”, and he urged them to “demonstrate political maturity” and commit to the ninth session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. Political will is also crucial to resolving the issue of missing persons. Meaningful progress in this regard will build confidence and create an environment in which the political process can move forward. Expressing concern over the security situation in Syria, he said that rising levels of violence will undermine peace efforts. He underscored the urgent need for de-escalation and restraint by all parties, along with respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The conflict continues to have a gendered impact, he pointed out, referring to the worrying reports of sexual violence visited on women in Al-Hol camp and calling for protection that considers these different needs. The humanitarian situation in Syria also remains alarming, with more than half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. The delivery of this aid still requires the cross-border mechanism. On this matter, he welcomed ongoing cross-border operations, along with the six convoys that have carried out cross-line deliveries to the north-west part of the country. He also voiced support for the planned inclusion of medical supplies in the crossline operation to northeast Syria and called for increased support for early recovery activities as a key component for building resilience and the longer-term peace that Syria and the region need.
SHERAZ GASRI (France), stating that the political process has been taken hostage by the Russian Federation, said the Constitutional Committee meeting must be held in Geneva. After years of conflict, the effect of resolution 2224 (2015) is not materializing. A political solution is necessary for peace in Syria. In addition, the delivery of sufficient humanitarian aid to the Syrian people remains a crucial issue; yet the means to deliver humanitarian aid remains inefficient in light of the humanitarian needs. To that end, she emphasized that, in January, France will work to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid is renewed for a year. Even with cross-line delivery, it could not replace cross-border mechanisms. She called on all parties, especially the Syrian regime, to respect international law. Regarding impunity, she said the serious crimes and violations of humanitarian law must be investigated.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), underlining that external factors have been detrimental to the overall political process, said that cancellation of the ninth Constitutional Committee meeting in July has further reinforced this view. As demonstrated by the July negotiations for renewal of the cross-border mechanism, entrenched vested positions by primary stakeholders can be counterproductive in the long run and detrimental to the interests of millions of Syrians. The Syrians must decide what is best for Syria and their own future. Expressing hope that the Special Envoy will be able to visit Damascus soon and engage with the Syrian Government, she also welcomed the progressive normalization of Syria’s relations with its Arab neighbours. More so, any acts compromising Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will negatively impact the political process. Enhanced and effective humanitarian assistance to all Syrians throughout the country must be ensured without discrimination, politicization and preconditions. While cross-border operations are predictable and important, they cannot exist in perpetuity. Concrete steps need to be taken to address the hurdles that are obstructing the functioning of cross line operations, she stressed.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), noting that the attack on 18 August in Hasakeh and on 19 August in a market in Al Bab city are unacceptable, urged all parties to demonstrate restraint, abide by their obligations to protect civilians, and contribute to lowering tensions. Noting the urgency of a nation-wide ceasefire and reinvigorated efforts to find a political solution, she underscored that progress towards finding a sustainable end to the conflict must be a priority for all. All parties must cooperate constructively with the Special Envoy and convene again as soon as possible. Turning to the issue of detainees and missing persons in Syria, she urged Syrian authorities to share more information and build confidence on progress towards implementation of the amnesty. Movement on that file is essential for breaking through the current political stalemate, she said.
AMIERA ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates), expressing regret that the ninth round of meetings of the Constitutional Committee were cancelled due to “external reasons”, questioned how long Syria “will remain a playground for settling political scores”. Going forward, momentum must be mobilized for a return to talks, which requires the international community to stop linking the Syrian file to other political files and to support the Special Envoy’s mediation efforts aimed at building confidence between the parties. Expressing concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, she noted the continued water shortages, acute food insecurity and lack of access to electricity and asked how long the Syrian people must suffer from these dire conditions. Additionally, she pointed out that the continued delay in addressing the political situation deepens the existing security vacuum exploited by terrorist groups in the country, asking how long such groups will be able to exploit the Syrian crisis to spread their own agenda in the region. Efforts should focus on breaking the current stalemate in the political track, she added.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said the Council must seriously measure and document the results of the cross-border mechanism before the latest authorization expires in five months. At the same time, a genuine assessment is needed of what is holding back cross-line deliveries. The cross-border humanitarian assistance is not a long-term solution, he said, noting that it will need to be eventually phased out for a solution that allows Syria to take full responsibility for the provision of aid to its population. He also encouraged efforts to increase cross-line deliveries, which can reach other parts of the Syrian territory. Voicing concern about the lack of progress of the Constitutional Committee, he underscored the importance of the United Nations in facilitating the necessary Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process to end the conflict in Syria. There should be flexibility in terms of the format of the Organization’s facilitation efforts, including on the venues for the talks, he added. Noting that sanctions imposed against the Syrian Government have had grave consequences to the Syrian population, he stressed the need for a thorough assessment of the potential deleterious consequences of unilateral sanctions on the civilian population.
ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) said that, together with the constitutional process, priority must be given to the situation of detained and missing persons. To that end, humanitarian organizations must have access to detention centres. Noting the significant increase in hostilities, she said a nationwide ceasefire is urgent to avoid more civilian losses and damage to fragile existing infrastructure. Turning to the critical food situation, she said it is crucial to maintain all modalities of access to humanitarian assistance. Voicing concern about the children who continue to be deprived of their liberty at many various detention centres, she called for the repatriation and reintegration of nationals from other countries as a matter of priority. Turning to the military actions in the east of Syria which have taken place invoking Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, she stressed that, in accordance with that provision, invocations of self-defence to use force against non-State actors in a third State on the premise of the so-called "unwilling and unable doctrine" are contrary to the Charter and customary international law.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said humanitarian needs throughout Syria are at their highest level and these increasing needs demonstrate the vital importance of the cross-border mechanism that the Council renewed last month. He urged the Council not to politicize this humanitarian mandate and work for its smooth renewal in January 2023. This would give aid workers the necessary certainty and predictability to do their jobs and assess the real needs on the ground, in order to expand access to life-saving aid across the country and through all modalities, including crossline deliveries. The humanitarian crisis continues to deepen because the political transition is paralysed, he said, deploring the actions of the Syrian regime and its supporters that prevented the Constitutional Committee’s ninth session from being held in Geneva last month. “Those who derail this process must know that they keep the country’s future hostage,” he said. Underneath the humanitarian catastrophe and political paralysis are the atrocities committed, mainly by the Syrian regime. More than 130,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested, missing or forcefully disappeared. In that regard, he voiced his support for the creation of an independent mechanism, with a strong international mandate, to clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing people. He also said he expected full clarity and accurate data on the amnesty.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said that a sustainable solution to the Syrian conflict can only be achieved through the full implementation of resolution 2254 (2015), which includes: a nationwide ceasefire; unhindered aid access; release of the arbitrarily detained; conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified refugee return; and free and fair elections pursuant to a new Constitution. He expressed disappointment that the regime continues to stall discussions on political and constitutional reform and that the Russian Federation is undermining political progress by asserting that Geneva should no longer be the venue for the Syrian Constitutional Committee. On the humanitarian front, he said that his country recognizes the importance of early recovery, detailing the United Kingdom’s funding for the rehabilitation of water networks, agricultural training and grants for small businesses. However, humanitarian assistance — particularly cross-border aid — remains a lifeline for millions, he stressed, calling on all Council members to ensure a renewed 12-month agreement in January 2023.
ZHANG JUN (China), Council President for August, spoke in his national capacity to underscore that violations of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must cease. Recent military operations by the United States in eastern Syria constitute a violation in this regard and have nothing to do with the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter. The unlawful presence of foreign forces and unlawful military operations in Syria must end. He stressed the need to combat all terrorism with zero tolerance, stating that any politically motivated use of terrorist forces is like “rearing ferocious tigers that will only lead to future peril”. On the humanitarian situation, he called for an accelerated transition from cross-border to cross-line aid delivery, noting that only one cross-line operation has been completed in northwest Syria since the adoption of resolution 2642 (2022). Cross-border relief is a temporary arrangement, he said, calling for the transition to cross-line operations to “shift into a higher gear” with a clear timetable in place for the eventual termination of cross-border relief.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said his Government is making great efforts to promote national reconciliation and rehabilitate its infrastructure and its services for its people, as well as working to create conditions for the safe return of refugees. Noting that it has been two months since the adoption of Council resolution 2642 (2022) to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, he said he looked forward to the Council guaranteeing the full adoption of all measures of this resolution and to a mechanism that can identify the gaps in its implementation. His country is facing great difficulties and challenges in coping with the humanitarian situation and the living conditions of its people. This is because the countries of the West are politicizing the humanitarian work and violating guidelines. Further, some donor States have disavowed obligations to support humanitarian work and the provisions of Council resolution 2642 (2022).
The United States and its Western allies continue to impose unilateral and coercive measures that cause suffering for the Syrian people, he continued. In addition, the United States’ occupying forces continue to plunder the resources of the Syrian Government, including 66,000 barrels of oil which are stolen daily and sent to United States bases in Iraq. The territories in north-west Syria continue to experience violence and its people are suffering the consequences. Until now, the focus has been on cross-border mechanisms, with more than 1,000 trucks crossing the border. However, landmines have not only prevented Syrian people from returning to their homes, they have also prevented the delivery of aid. He called on the United Nations to give the issue of landmines the attention and importance it deserves. A comprehensive plan to clear all areas in Syria of landmines and ammunition is needed to save the lives of Syrians. This will allow for their safe return, he said, noting that the Syrian Government has resettled 2.4 million people.
The Russian Federation and Iran reaffirmed their commitment to Syria at a 19 July summit, he reported. Also condemning the repeated Israeli aggressions, he stressed that the only solution is through a political process led by Syrians and facilitated by the United Nations. He called for an end to illegitimate foreign presences in Syria and for an end to the systemic Israeli attacks and to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States. The sovereignty of Syria must be guaranteed, he emphasized, demanding that States that sponsor armed groups pay reparations to the Syrian people. The United State forces are illegally present in Syria and on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian Government. It is a violation of the Charter and international humanitarian law, he pointed out.
ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran) underscored that political circumstances should not prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the Syrian people. Moreover, early recovery projects, such as electricity projects, are critical in re‑establishing access to essential services and must not be affected by unilateral sanctions. Resolution 2642 (2022) must be fully and effectively implemented and unilateral sanctions against Syria lifted. The Syrian crisis must be resolved peacefully and in accordance with the principles of international law. As such, the occupation must end, and Syria's full sovereignty restored. The Israeli regime continues to violate Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as carry out terrorist attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure within Syrian territory. The Council must abandon its double standard and condemn unequivocally Israel's aggression and terrorist attacks on Syria’s territory.
She also emphasized that the United States’ presence in the north-east of Syria under the pretext of combating terrorism is a clear violation of the Charter, international law, and Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “It is the United States that is working with the terrorist groups in Syria and destabilizing the peace and security in the region,” she said, calling on that country to end its continuing support of terrorist groups and occupation of the north-east part of Syria. The Council should live up to its Charter mandate and demand that the United States honour its international obligations, she added. Iran, as a responsible State, and in line with its international obligations, continues its efforts to assist the Syrian Government to combat terrorism.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Türkiye) said that, from the beginning, his country has supported every effort towards a political solution ensuring a united Syria that is free and democratic. His country’s longest land border — 911 kilometres — is with Syria, and therefore, the protection of its territorial integrity and unity is indispensable to his country. The Syrian opposition has so far acted in good faith to contribute to the success of the political process, he said, noting their positive approach throughout the eight rounds of the Constitutional Committee. However, progress can be made only if a similar approach is displayed by the regime. Eliminating the threat posed by terrorist organizations in Syria requires joint efforts, he underscored, pointing out that PKK/YPG [Kurdish Workers’ Party] continues to attack Syrian civilians, as well as Turkish citizens within his country’s borders using the very weapons provided to them to fight Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh. Moreover, the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces “which is actually nothing but PKK/YPG” carries out on average a hundred terrorist attacks every month in northern Syria, he said.
“No one should expect us to remain indifferent to those attacks,” he continued, underscoring that the real fight against Da’esh can and must be carried out only by legitimate actors. His country will continue its fight against all terrorist organizations threatening its national security and is ready to cooperate with all actors genuinely interested in Syria’s unity. Regarding Syria’s humanitarian crisis, he said the mandate of the cross-border mechanism must be extended once again in January 2023. While Türkiye will maintain its support in providing cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria, he said he was against the arbitrary implementation of the resolution. Cross-line deliveries should continue, but they cannot be the ultimate aim, which is to deliver humanitarian aid. He asked why both the United Nations and some donor countries are hesitant in extending aid to the opposition-controlled areas in Syria and implementing humanitarian assistance projects. Stressing that selectivity and discrimination have no place in the delivery of humanitarian aid, he said asked why there is no cross-line delivery to the Rukban camp. He then requested, once again, detailed information on the cross-line missions to northeast Syria.