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Damascus govt. gives UN list of nominees for constitutional committee

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) and other attendees take part in the plenary session of Syria peace talks brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 15, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura says the Damascus government has submitted a list of names to the UN as candidates for inclusion in a constitutional committee.

De Mistura's spokeswoman Reem Ismail said in the Swiss city of Geneva on Monday that the world body was carefully studying the list of names.

It is up to de Mistura to decide whom to pick for the committee, which will rewrite the Syrian constitution, she added.

De Mistura has said he will select about 50 people, including supporters of the government, the opposition and independents.

Formation of the committee was agreed at a Syrian peace conference in the Russian ski resort of Sochi in January.

The UN Security Council has mandated de Mistura to get a deal on the new constitution.

The main opposition negotiating group has agreed to cooperate as long as the committee is formed under UN auspices.

On Saturday, Syria's Foreign Ministry said it had handed to the Russian and Iranian ambassadors in Damascus a list of the members it had named to a committee to review the national constitution.

The submission of a list of names to the UN follows a meeting earlier this month between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has been providing military assistance to Syria in its fight against terrorists since September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government.

The Russian military assistance has proved effective as Syrians continue to recapture key areas from Daesh militants and other Takfiri terrorist groups across the country with the backing of Russian air cover.

In addition to anti-terror campaign, efforts are underway to find a political solution to the ongoing militancy in Syria.

At least nine rounds of crisis resolution talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, mediated by Iran, Russia and Turkey, have been held in Astana over the past months.

The trio has been mediating the negotiations in the Kazakh capital since January 2017, a month after they joined efforts and brought about an all-Syria ceasefire. The three states act as the guarantors of the truce.

The Astana peace process has significantly helped reduce the violence in Syria through the formation of four de-escalation zones in the country, setting the stage for Syria’s warring sides to focus on negotiations on the political future of their homeland.

The talks in Astana have been going on in tandem with another series of talks held in Geneva and brokered by the UN. Previous rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the UN over the past five years have failed to achieve tangible results.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011.

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