Iran, Russia and Turkey to meet on Syrian constitution next month

Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura hopes to have the constitutional committee in place before a UN General Assembly in late September.
Friday 24/08/2018
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) and other attendees take part in the plenary session of Syria peace talks brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in Astana on May 15, 2018. (AFP)
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (R) and other attendees take part in the plenary session of Syria peace talks brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in Astana on May 15, 2018. (AFP)

The UN peace envoy for Syria will host Iran, Russia and Turkey for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution on September 11-12, a United Nations spokeswoman said Friday.

Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has been tasked with setting up a committee to write a new constitution for the war-ravaged country.

The main foreign powers backing the project are Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey, which supports some opposition groups.

Representatives of the three nations will meet de Mistura over two days at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva, spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters.

De Mistura has said he wants to have the constitutional committee in place before world leaders meet at the General Assembly in New York in late September.

That will likely require further talks, including with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, but Vellucci said she had no details of additional meetings next month.

Idlib province: final rebel stronghold

Currently, Damascus is readying for a possible offensive into the north-western province of Idlib, the last major area outside of regime control. 

Around 60% of the strategically important province is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, with other hardline groups also present.

On Wednesday, HTS chief Abu Mohamed al-Jolani warned opposition factions in Idlib against taking part in any talks with the regime towards a government takeover of the province.

“The weapons of the revolution and jihad… are a red line on which concessions are unacceptable, and they will never be put on the negotiations table,” he said.

Turkey, meanwhile, has warned that a Syrian government offensive on Idlib would cause a humanitarian catastrophe. 

“Our goal is to alleviate the concerns of our Russian counterparts and get rid of the terrorists in that area,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a briefing in Moscow. “We can work together but we could be putting civilian lives at risk while eradicating those radical groups.

Since Syria's war began in 2011, more than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.

De Mistura’s previous efforts to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict have achieved no breakthroughs.

(Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)