UN Syria envoy to host top envoys from Russia, Turkey, Iran

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura speaks to the media after his meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Jordan, December 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 December 2018
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UN Syria envoy to host top envoys from Russia, Turkey, Iran

  • The talks scheduled for Tuesday in Geneva will likely be one of Staffan de Mistura’s last meetings with major players in the Syrian conflict

GENEVA: The outgoing UN envoy for Syria will meet top diplomats from Iran, Russia and Turkey this week, his office said Monday, in a final bid to make headway toward a new Syrian constitution.
The talks scheduled for Tuesday in Geneva will likely be one of Staffan de Mistura’s last meetings with major players in the Syrian conflict, as the veteran UN diplomat is due to step down in the coming days.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will attend, a spokesperson from his office said.
A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP that Ankara’s top envoy Mevlut Cavusoglu will be in Geneva along with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The UN did not immediately confirm the list of attendees.
The planned constitutional committee was agreed at a Russia-hosted conference in January.
The centerpiece of UN peace efforts in Syria, the committee would be tasked with negotiating a new post-war constitution that would pave the way to elections aimed at turning the page on seven years of devastating war.
But it has run into objections from the Syrian government.
The opposition has pushed for an entirely new constitution, but Damascus has said it will only discuss altering the current one.
In October, Damascus rejected a list presented by de Mistura of 50 civil society representatives and technical experts.


Daesh fighters pinned on Syrian riverbank, warplanes fly above

Updated 49 min 49 sec ago
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Daesh fighters pinned on Syrian riverbank, warplanes fly above

  • Defeat there would signal the end of the ultra-hard-line Islamist movement’s control in eastern Syria
  • The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday said they had driven the remaining Daesh fighters in the town of Baghouz

DEIR EZZOR, Syria: Warplanes flew near Baghouz in eastern Syria early on Wednesday, a Reuters witness said, as the final remnants of the Daesh group held a narrow strip of land along the Euphrates in a last-ditch defense of its dwindling territory.
Defeat there would signal the end of the ultra-hard-line Islamist movement’s control in eastern Syria, having held more than a third of Syria and Iraq at one point in 2014 as it sought to carve out a huge caliphate in the region.
On Tuesday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had driven the remaining Daesh fighters in the town of Baghouz from a makeshift encampment that had represented most of its remaining territory.
But while the capture of Baghouz, close to the Iraqi border, would mark a significant milestone in Syria’s eight-year war and in the battle against the militant group, Daesh remains a threat.
Some of the group’s fighters are still holed up in the central Syrian desert and others have gone underground in Iraqi cities to wage an insurgent campaign to destabilize the government.
Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the SDF, said late on Tuesday that clashes with the militants at the Euphrates were continuing “in several pockets.”