Syrian opposition cautious over regime’s Aleppo freeze pledge
REUTERS PhotoSyria’s moderate opposition would obey a deal that maintains the safety of Aleppo’s residents, the head of Syria’s opposition National Coalition has said after a U.N. envoy said Damascus was ready to suspend the bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks.
National Coalition President Khaled Khoja, however, also expressed distrust in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite U.N. Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura’s remarks announcing the government’s willingness to suspend fighting in the key northern Syrian province.
“The FSA’s [Free Syrian Army] General Staff and all FSA factions will fully abide by the terms of the agreement that will be announced in the event that a real solution is reached that achieves the demands of the Syrian people and restores security and stability to Syria,” he said in an interview published on the Syrian Coalition’s website.
“We welcome any effort aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria, and this has been the position of the Syrian Coalition since it was established,” he said when asked about a plan put forward by de Mistura.
However, he stressed “the Assad regime’s compliance with peace initiatives will be judged by actions, not words.”
“The Assad regime’s long track record in violating truces and agreements held with rebels in many areas across Syria over the past four years has revealed the regime’s goal behind these local truces, which is to gain more time and escalate attacks on the rebel-held areas.”
The head of the moderate Syrian opposition also said he talked with the U.N. envoy on the phone and told him that the plan “requires a careful and detailed study, and that stopping aerial bombardment must include all Syrian cities, and that there must also be an end to killing on the ground.”
De Mistura said on Feb. 17 the Syrian government has expressed “its willingness to halt all aerial bombing and artillery shelling for a period of six weeks all over the city of Aleppo from a date we’ll announce from Damascus.”
The comments by de Mistura came as regime forces severed the main rebel supply line into Aleppo in fighting that killed more than 150 people.
Syrian troops effectively severed the main rebel supply route into the eastern half of Aleppo city, which is under opposition control, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The highway runs up to the Turkish border through the town of Tal Rifaat, but regime forces now control two villages that straddle the route, effectively closing it to rebel traffic.