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Syria confirms that the formation of a constitutional committee does not mean the cessation of military operations

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Tuesday in an interview with the Syrian television channel that the work of the constitutional committee charged with preparing a new constitution for the country does not mean stopping military operations.

“The war is still going on in Syria, and we will continue until the liberation of all our lands, and this does not contradict the work on the constitution,” Moualem said. He added: “We do not accept external ideas and do not accept a timetable for the work of the Committee… We will not allow interference in the drafting of our Constitution.”

Al-Moallem pointed out that the committee will start its work at the end of next month in Geneva. “It is scheduled to start its work as I was told yesterday (Monday) on 30 October in Geneva.

He added that the UN envoy to Syria, Ger Pederson, “will return to Damascus after the end of the work of the General Assembly” of the United Nations in New York “to agree on all the details.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday announced the formation of a constitutional committee comprising representatives of the government, opposition and civil society in Syria to review the constitution and find a political solution to end the eight-year-old military conflict.

The Commission is expected to begin its work amid a wide divergence in the views of the parties to the conflict on its terms of reference and what awaits them. It consists of 150 members, 50 selected by Damascus, 50 by the opposition, and the other 50 by the United Nations, including experts and representatives of civil society.

Muallem warned that the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria would “hinder the work of the Commission, and this indicates that they do not want the Commission to move towards a political solution.”

Regime forces control more than 60 percent of the country, supported by its allies, especially Russia, which began its military intervention in Syria in September 2015. Areas in the northeast remain controlled by Kurdish fighters and the Idlib province (northwest), which is controlled by Tahrir al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra) over most of it, outside Damascus’s influence.

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