The United Nations special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, says representatives of the Syrian government and moderate opposition groups have reached a long-awaited agreement to start drafting new constitutional provisions during UN-mandated talks between the two sides in Geneva this week.
“The two co-chairs now agree that we will not only prepare for constitutional reform, but we will prepare and start drafting the constitutional reform,” Pedersen said at a brief news conference on Sunday.
“We concluded that we were not making sufficient progress, and that we could not continue the way we have been working,” he added.
Each side is expected to offer texts on matters including Syria’s sovereignty and rule of law.
At a Russia-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution until September 2019, equally represented by the Syrian government, political opposition, and civil society.
A smaller committee of 45 individuals of that same proportion is tasked with negotiating and drafting the new constitutional provisions.
The fifth and most recent round of meetings aimed at revising the constitution was held in January this year with the participation of delegates from various sides.
Since 2011, Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy, leading to the emergence of Daesh and other terrorist groups in the Arab country.
The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US and the EU for waging economic terrorism on the country through their unilateral sanctions, holding them responsible for the suffering of the Syrian people, especially now that the country is grappling with a deadly coronavirus outbreak.
Damascus has also been critical of the United Nations for keeping silent on the destructive role of the US and EU, among other parties supporting terrorism in Syria.
Terrorist entity in northern Syria
Separately, a senior Syrian official said the Damascus government will not allow the establishment of an entity run by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the northern part of the country, as it could pose dire threats to the entire Middle East region.
Abdul Qadir Azzouz made the remarks on the sidelines of a visit by a high-ranking Russian delegation to Syria on Sunday.
Azzouz also said he was coordinating with Russia regarding the Turkish military occupation in Syria, emphasizing that Damascus is determined to expand its sovereignty over entire Syrian territories.
The US military has stationed forces and equipment in eastern and northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.
Damascus, however, says the unlawful deployment is meant to plunder the country’s resources.
Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in Syria for its oil.
After failing to oust the Syrian government through proxies and direct involvement in the conflict, the US government has now stepped up its economic war on the Arab country.
Turkey has also deployed forces in Syria in violation of the Arab country's territorial integrity.
Ankara-backed militants were deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019 after Turkish military forces launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria says the Turkish offensive has killed hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children since it started.
Turkey has played a major role in supporting terrorists in Syria ever since a major foreign-backed insurgency overtook the country more than ten years ago.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials have said the Damascus government will respond through all legitimate means available to the ongoing ground offensive by Turkish forces and allied militants in the northern part of the war-battered Arab country.