Stepping up efforts to broker a ceasefire in Syria, the United Nations Special Envoy for the country, Staffan de Mistura, is briefing various opposition groups on latest international efforts to end a five-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and driven millions from their homes.
Mr. de Mistura met yesterday in Istanbul with members of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC), and today with armed opposition groups to inform them about the meeting earlier this month in Vienna of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), including the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political transition.
The ISSG includes the Arab League, the European Union, the United Nations, and 17 countries.
Mr. de Mistura elaborated on his ongoing efforts to prepare for intra-Syrian talks under UN auspices, with a view to a Syrian-led process aimed at establishing credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and drafting a new constitution.
“This initiative, now called the intra-Syrian talks, is building upon the Working Groups proposed by the Secretary-General and myself to the Security Council,” he said.
He welcomed Saudi Arabia’s initiative to convene a delegation of the Syrian opposition, and recalled the ISSG’s agreement to work to implement a nationwide ceasefire to come into effect as soon as the political process has begun.
Last week he briefed an informal session of the UN General Assembly in New York on the outcome of the Vienna meeting, indicating the possibility of a ceasefire through continued discussions and with active inclusion of all parties involved in the conflict.
“This is an opportunity for the Syrian opposition to come and be as inclusive as possible and as prepared as possible,” he told reporters at that time.