Syrian Opposition Statement on the Failure of the Astana Process

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 4 May 2017

Seven Syrian armed opposition groups, who have participated in the Russian-directed Astana process, put out a statement today that denounced Russia’s failure to enforce the terms of the agreements already made for a ceasefire and criticized the broader international community for its inaction in the face of barbarous crimes by the Russians’ client regime.

The Astana track was launched with the aim to ensure a comprehensive ceasefire in Syria, and end the humanitarian suffering of the Syrians after the failure of the international community to provide practical solutions or guaranties for the protection of the Syrian people from the holocaust they are being subjected to by the Assad regime and its Iranian and Russian allies. The armed revolutionary groups participated in this track for humanitarian reasons and due to the presence of Turkey as a guarantor.

Today, five months into the process, no concrete results have been achieved, the ceasefire has not materialized, and the Russians have failed in their responsibility as a guarantor. Therefore, we affirm the following points:

1) Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism that is adopting expansionist policies, is working on creating a social rift in Syria through its sectarian support to the Assad regime, hence it cannot be accepted as a guarantor or sponsor to any political process; it is an occupying force, an enemy which aims to undermine the identity of Syrian society and its future, and should be held accountable for its crimes in Syria.

2) In order to act as a credible guarantor, the Russian side should refrain from targeting the liberated areas with airstrikes; work on implementing the Security Council Resolutions related to the forced displacement of civilians; ensure the right of the [internally displaced people (IDPs)] and refugees to return to their homes; secure the release of all the detainees, starting with women and children; reveal the fate of the missing persons; and put an end to the policy of siege and starvation by applying international humanitarian standards and implementing U.N. Security Council Resolutions …

3) The armed revolutionary factions were the first to fight and eradicate terrorism in the liberated areas, while the regime was facilitating and protecting the areas controlled by Daesh [the Islamic State]. The regime’s policy and its approach of recruiting internationally designated terrorists and sectarian militias supported by Iran were among the main reasons for the continuation and spread of terrorism in Syria. Therefore, the revolutionary factions refuse to engage in any partnership with the regime regardless of its apparent goal or nature, as the regime is practicing the worst kind of state-sponsored terrorism against the Syrian people, who are struggling for freedom and change.

4) The ceasefire should include all the areas and factions of the revolution with no exception. The armed revolutionary groups have reacted positively to the proposed ceasefire, however the guarantor state acting on behalf of the regime has failed to meet its obligations in forcing the regime to comply with the Astana ceasefire agreement signed in December.

5) We reiterate our firm commitment to the Five Revolutionary Principles included in the Joint Document endorsed by the Syrian Islamic Council and the other revolutionary forces, and we consider them as a negotiating position that should guide any negotiations or political process in Syria. We express our readiness to engage positively in any initiative aiming to ease the suffering of our people, and reaffirm that the outcome of any political process that does not meet the expectation of the Syrian people will not represent the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people.

We wish the best of luck to the delegation participating in Astana meetings on behalf of the revolution in achieving and protecting the interests of the Syrian people.

Ahrar al-Sham

Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam)

Jaysh al-Yarmouk

Al-Jabhat al-Shamiya (The Levant Front)

Jaysh Idlib al-Hur (Free Idlib Army)

Jaysh al-Nasr

Faylaq al-Rahman (The Rahman Legion)

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