A Free Syrian Army's rebel fighter runs after attacking a tank with a rocket-propelled grenade during fighting in the Izaa district in Aleppo, Syria. File photo
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The Syrian regime has agreed “in principle” to the U.N. envoy’s call for local cease-fires to try to ease the worst fighting in the country’s civil war, but demanded more details before it can make a final decision, a Syrian official said Monday.
The statement of Ali Haidar, Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation, comes one week after U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura formally presented his proposal to President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, who said it was “worth studying.
Mistura’s proposal envisions freezing fighting in certain areas to allow entrance of humanitarian aid as part of a push toward a wider peace in the 3 1/2-year conflict, which has claimed lives of more than 200,000 people so far.
Speaking to the AP, Haidar said that de Mistura “came to us with a headline, not with any comprehensive proposal.
“He came to test the Syrian government’s intentions and he heard very good words, confirming that Syria wants serious cooperation.”
The Syrian Minister said that the U.N. envoy needs to sort out the details, the most important of which for the Syrian government is that halting fighting in any community “should be the start of a process of local reconciliation.”
“Freezing should be an introduction to clearing out this area of armed groups and weapons and their exit from this area to turn it into a safe zone in a way that allows the government to bring in humanitarian aid and services to this area,” he said.
Haidar added that de Mistura “has to make sure that the armed groups on the ground and their backers are ready to accept this initiative.”
Syria’s intractable conflict has so far defied several international efforts to resolve it. While the rise of the Islamic State group has given greater urgency to finding some sort of solution, reaching even small-scale truces in the fragmented country of multiple, divided fighting forces could be a near impossible task.
Opposition activists, meanwhile, say local truces would only help the government unless they were part of a comprehensive political solution to the civil war.