UN Syria envoy is hopeful for the freeze of hostilities in Aleppo

UN Syria envoy is hopeful for the freeze of hostilities in Aleppo

İpek Yezdani - ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr
UN Syria envoy is hopeful for the freeze of hostilities in Aleppo

United Nations envoy on the Syrian crisis, Staffan de Mistura, has been holding talks with the Syrian government and opposition forces for feeze of fighting in Aleppo. AFP photo

The U.N. peace envoy to Syria is hopeful for a freeze of hostilities in Aleppo, U.N. Special Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s spokesperson Juliette Touma told daily Hürriyet following the talks between Syrian political and military opposition groups in Turkey.

“We met representatives from most of the groups, both armed and political, that are active on the ground in Aleppo. The talks were constructive. We are very hopeful and working very hard through the special envoy to make the freeze work,” Touma told Hürriyet over a phone interview yesterday.

De Mistura held talks with the political and military wings of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul and Gaziantep to promote a cease-fire proposal for the northern city of Aleppo from Dec. 7 to 9.
However, Touma said the proposal that the U.N. brought was not a cease-fire, but a “freeze of hostilities” in Aleppo.

“We are not talking about a cease-fire. We are calling it a ‘freeze.’ This is a U.N. proposal presented to the parties involved in the conflict in Syria. We have been pursuing consultations, meetings and visits to discuss with various stakeholders how to freeze operations in Aleppo, which will bring an end to the hostilities,” she said.

Talks with Syrian government next

The Syrian opposition has been given an overview and been provided with more information on the freeze proposal, Touma said of the talks. “So far the discussions have been constructive. There is a big challenge ahead of us. Meanwhile, we will continue to discuss and advocate with the parties about the need to reach the freeze. The Deputy Special Envoy will be in Damascus in the coming days. He will also discuss with the Syrian government more information on the freeze and how it will be implemented [on the ground],” she added. 

De Mistura and Touma have also visited camps in Gaziantep where Syrian refugees from Aleppo are staying. “We met children, women, older men and younger men. And there was one message that came out: ‘we want the war in Syria to finish, we want the violence to end and we want to go back home.’ So a freeze of hostilities is also what the people of Aleppo have asked for. They ask for an end of the violence and this is what the freeze plans to achieve,” she said.

Touma said they were also working with regional member states, including Turkey, to advocate the “freeze” plan in Aleppo.

Aleppo has been split roughly in half between opposition groups in the east and government troops in the west, with the remaining civilians subjected to barrel bombing campaigns. The fighting has severely restricted access to humanitarian aid.