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De Mistura: Iran is key player for political solution in Syria

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura underlined the importance of a political solution in Syria and called for an end to violence
Staffan de Mistura answers journalists' questions after a meeting with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Moqdad in the Syrian capital Damascus on 11 February, 2015 (AFP)

The United Nations envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura emphasized the need for all sides involved in the Syrian conflict to adhere to a political solution.

The envoy was speaking at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on Thursday.

De Mistura was appointed to the position in July 2014, and stated that he has “never seen a tragedy as bad as this nor this level of destruction in the last 40 years.”

“If there is no political solution in Syria, Daesh will take advantage of that,” he said, referring to the Islamic State’s acronym in Arabic. “Anyone involved in armed fighting should be working with the UN to reduce the level of violence.”

The UN envoy also stressed upon the inclusion of Iran in the regional effort to secure stability within Syria.

“We need to engage Iran as a player and as a country with a substantial influence on the Syrian regime,” he said.

De Mistura had proposed a six week fighting freeze on the northern city of Aleppo- once the commercial hub of the country- which has been divided between the government forces in the west, and the oppositional armed groups in the east since 2012.

“Aleppo is the second largest city in Syria, and a mosaic of all of the wonderful culture that exists in that city,” de Mistura said. “If it falls, there will be a catastrophic disaster with 500,000 people moving to Turkey.”

The opposition has rejected the proposal, insisting that a freeze on fighting should be implemented on the entire country. They fear that the Syrian government during this pause seize this as an opportunity to fortify their provisions and move their forces to take over a rebel stronghold in a different part of the country.

The oppositional Syrian National Committee had criticised de Mistura after he commented that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be part of any political solution, demanding that they wanted a “comprehensive solution” that will see to the removal of Assad from power.

The four year civil war in Syria has claimed the lives of over 220,000 people, with 3.2 million refugees residing mostly in neighbouring countries.

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