Al-Moallem: The Idea of “Self-administration” in Eastern Aleppo Categorically Rejected

“We held talks Sunday morning with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and his delegation, and we expected to hear from him that a date was set for resuming the intra-Syrian dialogue, but we did not,” al-Moallem said in a press conference, adding that de Mistura focused on what he called “ideas” about eastern Aleppo.

“In fact, we told him that we are in agreement about the need to get terrorists out of the eastern part of Aleppo, regardless of our differences about their numbers, but it makes no sense at all to leave 275,000 of our fellow citizens remain hostages by five or six or seven thousand militants. No government in the world would allow that,” al-Moallem added.

Al-Moallem pointed out that de Mistura talked about “self-administration” in eastern Aleppo is which is categorically rejected.

“Is it possible that the United Nations has come to reward the terrorists who are still firing random shells at Western Aleppo which claimed the lives of thousands of people and wounded many others?” al-Moallem said.

“And today, a shell was fired at al-Furkan School, killing 11 students. Does it make sense to reward them? Moreover, terrorists also bombed the Justice Palace, the Faculty of Law and al-Bassel Hospital. Those terrorists do not have a moral deterrent,” he added.

The Minster reaffirmed that the idea of “self-administration” is totally rejected “because it undermines Syria’s national sovereignty and gives a reward for terrorism,” adding “Syria gave three truce opportunities for evacuating the residents from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, but terrorist organizations did not allow them to get out through the safe corridors, and they bombed the corridors with mortar shells and prevented civilians from leaving despite all the preparations carried out by Aleppo Governorate to secure them out safely.”

The minister continued by saying that “ they were given more than a chance and they did not seize them, and now you are hearing about locals’ demonstrations about food warehouses which are guarded by terrorists who are selling food on the black market to our people in eastern Aleppo.”

“Even humanitarian convoys have been prevented by mortars. Therefore, I believe that it is the duty of the Syrian state to save those citizens from being held hostages,” al-Moallem said.

“We informed de Mistura about another proposal in which the Syrian state offered to our people who wanted to stay in the eastern Aleppo that they can stay safely, and that the militants can have their legal status settled and stay there if they want to, while the militants who would like to leave for Idleb or Turkey can have the path paved for them to do so,” The minister pointed out.

The Minister asserted that the state security and service institutions must be returned to east Aleppo after the withdrawal of gunmen because “this area cannot be different from the rest of areas where settlements and reconciliations took place, most recently in al-Moaddamieh.”

Al-Moallem said that “when de Mistura was talking about a ceasefire, we asked him for guarantees from the countries supporting terrorists, but he said that there are no such guarantees,” adding “We have not seen anything that helps a resumption of Syrian-Syrian dialogue… perhaps [he] is waiting for a new US administration or a new UN secretary-general.”

Answering SANA’s question about Syria’s expectations about a new US administration, al-Moallem pointed out that “It is too early to talk about the slogans raised during the election campaign….Any sane person who reviewed the last administration’s policies has to correct its mistakes,” adding “What we want from the next administration is not only to stop supporting armed groups, but also to curb the regional countries known for supporting them.”

As for holding a conference that gatherers the “internal opposition” with figures of “external opposition” in Damascus, al-Moallem said “we always welcome any Syrian-Syrian meeting, away from foreign intervention in order to hold dialogue about future, so, we say that if this conference will be held in Damascus we welcome it, and if it was held in Geneva, we would say welcome.”

Answering a question about pushing terrorists from Aleppo to Idleb, al-Moallem said “We don’t push them to Idleb, but their command centers is there, and it is a governorate that borders Turkey, which means their logistic and human gathering is in Idleb, anyway, if they choose a place other than Idleb, we don’t mind.”

“We have no doubt that our armed force will win the battle in Aleppo, and the decision of the leadership is to have the situation in Aleppo back to normal, and our families in the eastern neighborhoods would be released from those terrorists who take civilians as human shields,” al-Moallem affirmed .

On the Turkish aggression on Syrian territories, al-Moallem stressed that the Turkish side which invaded the Syrian lands is an aggressor, whether it was in al-Bab or in Jarabulus, adding that every part of Syria will be liberated.

As for the chemical attacks by terrorists and Syria’s request for an inquiry commission to come to Syria, al-Moallem said “our experiments in the past have proved that we should not be optimistic with the arrival of an inquiry commission regarding the use of chemical weapons by terrorists.

Concerning his expectations about the roof of improving the Syrian-Lebanese relations after electing Michel Aoun as President of Lebanon, al-Moallem said “this depends on the Lebanese side… we have a common interest and we are ready to activate with it.”

Manar al-Frieh/Manal/Mazen