Aleppo rebels reject UN plan for temporary truce

Opposition council snubs UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s proposal for a six-week ceasefire in northern Syrian city.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem meeting with The UN peace envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura
UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, left, met Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in Damascus [SANA/EPA]

A group of Syrian opposition forces has rejected UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s proposal for a temporary ceasefire in the northern city of Aleppo.

After two days of meetings in Turkey, Aleppo’s newly formed Revolutionary Council said on Sunday that they refused to meet the envoy unless he proposes a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis that excluded President Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Referring to Assad, a delegate of the council told Al Jazeera that the opposition “will not accept a deal that involves a person who destroyed our country, killed or displaced our people”.

“In the past few months Aleppo has witnessed intensified and vicious military operations backed up by several countries, why should we accept a plan involving someone behind all this?” the delegate, who wished not to be named, said.

“Things on the ground for us seem fine, we have claimed victory in several battles and we hope to get rid of all extremist factions who aim to destroy our revolution.”

The Revolutionary Council released a separate statement saying: “We refuse to meet with Mr Staffan de Mistura if it is not on the basis of a comprehensive solution to Syria’s drama through the exit of Bashar al-Assad and his chief of staff, and the prosecution of war criminals.”

The political and military grouping was set up Saturday at a meeting in the Turkish border town of Kilis attended by exiled opposition chief Khaled Khoja, other opposition figures and Aleppo civil society representatives.

The rebels questioned why a truce would be limited to Aleppo and not include the whole country.

“Syria and its people are one and indivisible. The blood of our brothers in Deraa [in the south], in Ghouta [near Damascus], in Homs [central] and in other Syrian provinces are no less important than our blood in Aleppo,” the statement said.

Fighting freeze

De Mistura on Saturday held talks in Damascus to try to finalise a deal to freeze fighting in for six weeks in Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial hub that is now divided between rebel and government control.

Staffan de Mistura talks to Al Jazeera

Deputy Prime Minister Minister Walid al-Muallem received de Mistura and the accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, the two sides agreed to send a mission from the envoy’s office in Damascus to Aleppo to inspect the situation there, according to the state-run SANA news agency.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal al-Moqdad and Adviser to the Foreign and Expatriates Minister Ahmad Arnous.

Under the plan, rebels would be asked to suspend rocket and mortar fire there during the freeze. De Mistura incurred the wrath of the opposition earlier in February by describing Assad as “part of the solution” to Syria’s conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said at least 4,000 people have been killed in February alone.

At least 220,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests that spiralled into a multi-sided civil war.

Source: Al Jazeera