Designated terrorist groups such as Isis and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have continued to gain in strength in Syria, India said today at the UN Security Council briefing on Syria (Political), reiterating that there could be no military solution to the longstanding conflict in the west Asian country.
In his remarks on 28 September, Joint Secretary (UN Economic and Social) Srinivas Gotru said the long-term security and stability in West Asia could be achieved only by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the war-ravaged country.
“We have been referring to the involvement of external actors in Syria and its impact on the growth of terrorism both in Syria and in the region. The designated terrorist groups such as Isis and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have continued to gain in strength in Syria and their activities have been mentioned in the secretary-general’s recent report,” he said.
Gotru said Isis had targeted energy infrastructure in some instances while Hayat Tahrir al-Sham continued to have a dominating influence in Idlib.
The joint secretary cited the latest report of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD) which also referred to the repeated deployments of chemical weapons by Isis against the civilian population between 2014-16.
“This is a cause for serious concern and needs to be fully recognised and acted upon given that the core area of operations of Isis includes Syria,” Gotru said.
The joint secretary stressed that long-term security and stability in West Asia can only be achieved by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.
“We remain convinced that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and reaffirm our commitment to advancing a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process” in line with the UN Security Council Resolution, he said.
Gotru said the last few weeks have seen developments of interest on the Syria political track.
The “important countries” having an influence on Syria have held discussions too, albeit informally. There have been high-level engagements between Syria and Russia.
“The constitutional committee was set up nearly two years ago, and the process of drafting the constitution needs to begin. The efforts of the last two years have made it clear that the external influence remains the major impeding factor, hampering the progress on the political track,” Gotru said.
India called on all external actors to desist from adversely influencing the parties concerned and hoped that these ongoing efforts would re-energise the political track.
India has taken note of the convening of the sixth meeting of the small body of the constitutional committee in Geneva on 18 October. This is a “positive development” and all sides “need to engage constructively” with the UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen on his bridging proposals, Gotru said.
“The process has to remain a Syrian-led and Syrian-driven process, and facilitated by the UN,” he said, adding that on the security front, the ceasefire agreement in Daraa is a welcome development.
“However, we remain concerned with the overall situation in Syria, including in the northeast and the northwest.”
The secretary-general’s recent report mentioned that military activities and hostilities have increased in recent months, seriously affecting the civilian population.
“We believe that the nationwide comprehensive ceasefire is paramount to the interest of the Syrian people and will help in ensuring that positive developments like the first crossline humanitarian aid operation from Aleppo to Idlib can take firm roots and not remain a one-off occurrence,” he said.
Gotru said India had extended development-related assistance and human resource development support to Syria through grants, lines of credit for development projects, supply of food and medicine, artificial limb fitment camps, capacity building and training programmes.