DAMASCUS, February 26. /TASS/. Damascus hopes that the reconciliatory process between the government and the armed opposition will lay the basis for future development of national dialogue in the country, Syrian presidential adviser on national accord Ahmad Mohammad told Russian journalists on Friday.
“Despite the fact that ceasefire is officially in force on the whole territory of Syria, several regions are controlled by groups that somehow prevent citizens from joining the ceasefire regime. However, we hope that local ceasefires will help start national inter-Syrian dialogue,” Mohammad said.
Attempts to agree on ceasefire are made across the country, he noted. “We already have results. Relevant agreements were signed in settlements in provinces of Latakia, Homs, Daraa, as well as in several settlements near Damascus,” the advisor added.
On several occasions, armed opposition groups not only agreed on ceasefire but also joined the government army in fighting against terrorist groups recognized as such by the UN Security Council, Mohammad said noting that Syrian authorities will not hold negotiations with such groups.
“This, for example, happened in Aleppo when the opposition united with government forces and fought against IS (Islamic State terrorist organization), Jebhat al-Nusra, Jeysh al-Islam and other extremist groups,” he went on.
“I want to remind that our ministry (of national accord) was set up precisely for uniting Syrian people and giving a chance to those who made a mistake to return under the protection of the state,” he added.
Another task of the ministry of national accord is to bring refugees back home, Mohammad noted. “This is another serious problem for our country. According to different estimates, more than four million people have left Syria since the war started. However, the military has recently freed dozens of settlements, and people have started returning home,” he said.
“We managed to achieve this – around 60,000 people have already returned as of today. We are now working to bring the number to 100,000 people,” Mohammad noted.
Moscow’s mediating role
Efforts are currently made on the Russian initiative aimed at reaching agreement between Damascus and the opposition. The sides should launch negotiations focusing on bringing together disparate opposition forces in the face of common enemy represented by radical Islamists.
This process was launched about two weeks ago and has already brought its first results. Thanks to Moscow’s mediating role, more and more rebel leaders are joining the ceasefire agreement that envisages ceasing military actions against the government guaranteeing the right for full-fledged participation in the political life of the country.
Russian Defense Ministry official spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday that the coordination center on the ceasefire set up by the Russian Defense Ministry in Syria has already received over a dozen of calls.
The center received about ten calls from those areas in Syria where Russian servicemen are carrying out active work, he said. Thus, the center’s staff members are working with representatives of the opposition groups in the Hama, Homs, Latakia provinces and the cities of Damascus and Daraa.