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Peace guarantors ‘committed to preserving Syria's sovereignty’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Syrian chief negotiator and Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari (C) attends the plenary session of Syrian peace talks — brokered by Iran, Russia, and Turkey — in Nur-Sultan, (previously Astana), Kazakhstan, on November 29, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The three guarantor states in the Syrian peace process have reiterated their commitment to preserving Syria’s sovereignty, at the end of the 13th round of talks for peace in the Arab country in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan.

In the final communiqué of the two-day talks issued on Friday, the guarantor states, namely Iran, Russia, and Turkey, reaffirmed their adherence to the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Syria.

They also stressed their determination to continue their cooperation until the complete elimination of all terrorist groups in the country.

The three countries also rejected the occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights by the Israeli regime. 

They also expressed deep concern over the spread of activities by the so-called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, across the northwestern province of Idlib.

The communiqué emphasized the necessity of restoring calm to the de-escalation zone in Idlib through the comprehensive implementation of the related agreements, particularly the deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on September 17, 2018.

Under the agreement, all militants in a demilitarized zone, which surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw two days earlier.

In addition to delegations from the three guarantor states, United Nations representatives as well as observers from Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq were present at the talks.

The guarantors agreed to hold the next round of the talks in Nur-Sultan in October.

The city, formerly called Astana, has been hosting the Syrian peace talks involving Tehran, Moscow, and Ankara since 2016 in what has generally been known as the Astana format.

Speaking at a press conference after the meetings on Friday, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari, who heads the Syrian government delegation to the talks, criticized Turkey for not complying with its obligations under the final communiqués of the previous rounds of talks in the Kazakh capital as well as the Sochi agreement.

Ja’afari said that Damascus would not wait indefinitely until Ankara complied with its obligations, noting that millions of Syrians in Idlib were urging the government to rid the province of terrorism.

He stressed that Turkey’s heavy military presence in Syria violated the memorandums of understandings that the previous talks in Kazakhstan’s capital produced.

The Syrian chief negotiator added that the Ankara-backed militants were looting antiques from the mostly Kurdish-inhabited city of Afrin and transferring them to Turkey.

There was no immediate reaction from Ankara.

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