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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

US Envoy to Syria: Political solution is the only way to end conflict 

Joel Rayburn said Bashar Al Assad's regime alone could not produce a political resolution

A displaced Syrian girl from the south of Aleppo province carries a baby outside their wet tent due to rain at a camp in Kafr Dariyan situated at a short distance from Syria's border with Turkey, in Idlib. AFP
A displaced Syrian girl from the south of Aleppo province carries a baby outside their wet tent due to rain at a camp in Kafr Dariyan situated at a short distance from Syria's border with Turkey, in Idlib. AFP

The United States Special Envoy for Syria called on Friday for continued political efforts, both inside the country and internationally, to end the conflict.

Washington's top priorities in Syria are to achieve an enduring defeat of ISIS, the withdrawal of all forces commanded by Iran and political resolution of conflict, Joel Rayburn said in Manama,Bahrain.

“There is a window of opportunity not to be missed, the end of ISIS territory control, the opportunity to take the focus from the battlefield to the political track,” the special envoy said.

Mr Rayburn stressed that there will be no military solution in Syria, adding that a continuation of President Bashar Al Assad’s regime will never produce a political settlement.

"As long as Assad does not participate in political process then Syria will remain a hot bed of terrorism and instability, they will continue to face political isolation around the world and economic pressure," he added.

By the end of a political settlement, Syria will need to behave differently in the region, the envoy said.

“The Government will need to meet six conditions if it to have relations with the United States, it must sever its ties with the Iranian regime, it must not be a safe haven for terrorism, must not threaten its neighbouring states and must dismantle and hand over its chemical weapons,” he said.

The Syrian government must foster the safe and dignified return of Syrian refugees and it should establish a safe and neutral environment for its citizens, he said.

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But above all it is imperative that the international community takes this opportunity on the ground.

"We are working very closely with the US team in Washington to continue to find ways to put pressure on the Iranian regime to remove all Iranian forces from Syria," Mr Rayburn said.

Economic US Sanctions are currently being reactivated on the Iranian regime.

Washington and Tehran have been increasingly at odds over Iran’s growing political and military influence in the Middle East since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

The renewed sanctions were among those lifted under a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

“We will continue to work through our UN venues to highlight Iranian activity in Syria, and to apply economic and political pressure,” he said.

Mr Rayburn also highlighted the atrocities that the Iranian regime has taken part in the conflict.

"They have brought child soldiers inside Syria, and are attempting to establish a military base to threaten its neighbours, not just Israel but Jordan and other states," he said.