Out­go­ing UN en­voy makes new ap­peal to Syria’s war­ring sides

Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces break into Daesh pocket in Deir Ez­zor prov­ince

Arab News - - News Middle East - AP, Reuters, AFP Geneva File/AFP

The out­go­ing UN en­voy for Syria is ap­peal­ing on the coun­try’s war­ring sides to form a com­mit­tee that would ne­go­ti­ate a new con­sti­tu­tion as a way of bring­ing the Mideast na­tion out of its pro­tracted civil war.

Staffan de Mis­tura says there are dis­agree­ments over a “few names” of those who would be on that com­mit­tee.

He said “agree­ment, par­tic­u­larly on the side of ” the regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad was needed.

De Mis­tura said on Fri­day that his Dec. 20 briefing to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil could be his last. He had orig­i­nally planned to leave in Novem­ber.

De Mis­tura ap­peared along­side China’s spe­cial en­voy Xie Xiaoyan and said he was seek­ing Chi­nese help to con­vince Syria’s regime that it’s “worth it to make an ef­fort.”

Turkey and the US have agreed to speed up ef­forts to put in place an agree­ment on Man­bij by the end of the year, said a work­ing com­mit­tee be­tween the NATO al­lies.

Ear­lier this year, Turkey and the US reached a deal over Man­bij, af­ter months of dis­agree­ment, un­der which the Kur­dish YPG mili­tia is to com­pletely with­draw from the town. Ankara, which con­sid­ers the YPG a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion, says the with­drawal has yet to hap­pen.

Dur­ing Fri­day’s meet­ing the two sides also agreed to con­tinue to work on joint plan­ning with re­gard to other ar­eas, as men­tioned in the Man­bij roadmap.

Mean­while, Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces (SDF) have bro­ken into an east­ern hold­out of Daesh on the Iraqi border.

A Kur­dish-led al­liance, backed by airstrikes of the US-led coali­tion, has been bat­tling to oust Daesh from the pocket in the east­ern prov­ince of Deir Ez­zor since Septem­ber.

Heavy clashes

But the SDF troops suf­fered a se­ries of set­backs, in­clud­ing due to a vi­cious fight­back by ex­trem­ists and bad weather that im­peded vis­i­bil­ity.

On Thurs­day, an SDF com­man­der said the al­liance had man­aged to break into the pocket and wrest part of its main town from Daesh.

"Heavy clashes are on­go­ing in­side the town of Ha­jin, af­ter our forces ad­vanced in­side and started to control some of its neigh­bor­hoods," said Re­dur Khalil.

The SDF opened up hu­man­i­tar­ian cor­ri­dors out of the be­lea­guered pocket, al­low­ing more than 1,000 civil­ians — mostly woman and chil­dren — to flee from Ha­jin in the past few days.

Syr­ian chil­dren carry pots of food at a camp for the dis­placed near the border with Turkey in the Aleppo prov­ince.

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