UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives to Geneva for a round of negotiation during the Intra Syria talks, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Salvatore Di Nolfi/Pool
CAIRO – 14 December 2017: The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Russia has to make more efforts and attempts to end the Syrian Civil War by convening with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to start real peace talks.
Speaking on Swiss television station RTS on Wednesday, December 13, de Mistura urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to convince his ally in Syria to end the nearly seven-year long war. “Convince the Syrian government that there is no time to lose … and to win peace, you have to have the courage to push the government to accept that there has to be a new constitution and new elections, through the United Nations,” Reuters quoted de Mistura.
On December 11, Putin met with Assad during his short visit to Russia’s Hameymim Air Base before heading to Egypt to meet President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
During the visit, he announced withdrawing a number of Russian troops from Syria. "I order the Defense Ministry and the chief of General Staff to begin the pullout of the Russian military group to permanent locations," Putin stated.
This visit marked Putin's first trip to Syria and comes as Assad's forces have regained control over most of Syria under the Russian air cover. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Commander of the Russian troops in Syria Sergey Surovikin accompanied Putin during his trip to Syria's coastal governorate of Latakia.
The Syrian political situation has been deteriorating since the protests emerged with the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, when the opposition created the Free Syrian Army to face Assad’s forces. The situation worsened after the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group interfered in the war in 2014.
About 470,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the war as of February 2016, according to the latest data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Some 1.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced, while the number of refugees has reached 4.8 million, the data added.