UN Syria envoy offers plan to avert Idlib crisis

He told the U.N. Security Council Friday that talk of a military offensive on Idlib "is happening at exactly the same time when there is serious talk" on moving to establish a committee to draft a new Syrian constitution and encourage the return of Syrian refugees.

7 September 2018 | 18:41

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 7 September 2018 | 18:41

This image courtesy of Wissam Zarqa, an activist and resident of Idlib, shows protesters holding Syrian revolution flags and chanting, in Maaret al-Numan, a town in Idlib province, Syria, Friday, Sept 7, 2018. (Courtesy of Wissam Zarqa via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran: The U.N. envoy for Syria said any proposal to avoid Idlib becoming "the biggest humanitarian tragedy at the end of the most horrible recent conflict in our memory" must be given a chance — and he has some ideas on how to separate "terrorists" from civilians.

Staffan De Mistura is also calling for "protected voluntary evacuation routes" for civilians if they want to leave Idlib.

He told the U.N. Security Council Friday that talk of a military offensive on Idlib "is happening at exactly the same time when there is serious talk" on moving to establish a committee to draft a new Syrian constitution and encourage the return of Syrian refugees.

De Mistura said these are incompatible.

"Either we are trying to find a political way to end this war and move to a post-war political scenario or we will see this war reach new levels of horrors."

He said that's why Friday's meeting of the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Tehran is so important and why he will be meeting with the three countries in Geneva on Monday and Tuesday — and next Friday with Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the United States.

It would be a failure of diplomacy "if with these efforts we simply saw an increase of military activities," De Mistura said.

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