Syria’s moderate opposition can contribute to easing tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone, Alexandr Lavrentyev, Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, said on Wednesday.
The moderate group of the opposition makes “quite a large force”, it has possibilities to expand its presence in Idlib, displacing radicals, Lavrentyev said at a news conference in Sochi.
“It has the ability to ensure its stable presence in the Idlib de-escalation zone and to ensure, if not the destruction, then at least the squeezing out of the representatives of the radical groups that have formed there, outside the security zone. This would greatly help stabilize the situation,” he said.
The opposition, in general, showed orientation for the search of compromises at the meeting in Sochi, Lavrentyev added.
Meanwhile, progress is being made in the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, he noted.
“The parties have begun to talk to each other, though indirectly, really interesting ideas and proposals are put forward during consultations, which will be summarized in the future for making some decisions,” he said.
Moscow expects that Geir Pedersen, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for Syria, will be able to persuade the parties to be more flexible in the negotiations, the diplomat said.
Turning to the US presence in Syria, he called it “illegal”, saying Washington “plunders Syria’s natural resources” by means of business companies.
“This is unacceptable because it affects the Syrian people, who are deprived of the right to use the proceeds from oil production in their own interests, in the interests of the Syrian people,” he said.
Lavrentyev expressed hope that US President Joe Biden’s administration will revise the country’s policy in Syria and will give up the line on maximum pressure.
The Syrian Constitutional Committee meetings, which started in October 2019 with 150 members, are the first concrete step to draft a new constitution to determine Syria’s future.
The Astana peace process to end the Syrian conflict was launched in January 2017 at the initiative of Turkey, Russia, and Iran.
The meetings of Astana guarantors also contribute to the advancement of the UN-led diplomatic process in Geneva.
The conflict in Syria began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.