UN Syria envoy to visit Damascus

Staffan de Mistura to meet senior Syrian government officials for conciliation talks in Damascus

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis Staffan de Mistura plans to visit Damascus as part of a plan to meet parties involved in the Syrian war and unite them to a common ground, his office said Saturday.

"During his visit, Mr. de Mistura intends to raise with the Syrian government the issue of protection of civilians, underlining once again the unacceptable use of barrel bombs and the incontestable duty of any government, in all circumstances, to protect its civilians," de Mistura’s office said in a statement.

De Mistura started his talks last month in Geneva. He was expected to meet one-on-one 40 delegations including Syrian officials, opposition leaders, and civil society and representatives of governments in the region that influence the war in Syria. However he was only able to meet about half of them because some have refused to sit down with him.

The main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), did not accept de Mistura’s invitation to the Geneva talks. Later De Mistura later came and met the SNC in Istanbul.

The office did not mention if de Mistura will meet the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, nor did it define a specific time for the visit as it is classified for security reasons.

The provisional timetable and the due date of the report which is expected to be delivered to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the end of June are extended as the meetings scheduled to be held with parties to the Syrian conflict will continue until July according to  the statement.    

De Mistura also plans to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria and in particular the besieged and war-affected people.

"In his discussions, the Special Envoy plans to convey once again to Syrian officials his deep conviction that no solution to the Syrian conflict can be imposed by force and that an inclusive and Syrian-led and owned political settlement is urgently needed," the statement said.

According to UN estimates, over 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war that started as an uprising and later descended into a complex civil war. More than 6.7 million people have fled the country while millions of others were displaced internally, leaving the other 12.2 million people in humanitarian aid need, including 5.6 million children.

TRTWorld and agencies