Putin calls for new constitution in Syria

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the significance of drafting a new constitution in Syria as a step toward a political resolution of the crisis in the Arab country.

“I believe it’s necessary to move toward constitutional reform. It’s a complicated process, of course,”  Putin said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild.

“And after that, on the basis of the new constitution, (Syria should) hold early presidential and parliamentary elections,” he said in the interview, parts of which were released by the Kremlin on Tuesday.

He also said Russia co-ordinates its actions in Syria with both the Syrian government forces and opposition forces fighting Daesh Takfiris.

“We are coordinating our joint actions with them and support their offensive operations on different parts of the front with strikes by our air force,” he said.

Russia launched the aerial campaign against the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in Syria on September 30, 2015 upon a request by the Damascus government.

Putin also referred to the recent diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia and said it would complicate efforts to reach a solution to the Syrian crisis.

The row began after Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and Riyadh’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with Iran after Tehran condemnation.

The Saudi move has raised concerns that UN-brokered efforts to solve the Syrian crisis, which involve both Saudi Arabia and Iran, may be adversely affected.

In the Bild interview, Putin also expressed willingness to mediate on resolving the current spat between Tehran and Riyadh.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since 2011, which has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people, and displaced millions.

Meanwhile, The UN humanitarian chief has welcomed the Syrian government’s call for continued aid deliveries to crisis-hit areas as relief aid arrives in three Syrian towns cut off for months by conflict.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said Monday’s delivery of aid convoys to the towns of Madaya, Kefraya and Foua must not be “either one-off or exceptional.”

O’Brien, who was talking to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council’s closed door meeting, said the arrival of relief goods must become the model for regular aid deliveries to civilians caught in conflict, which is a requirement under international law.

Earlier on Monday, a convoy of 44 trucks loaded with food, baby formula, blankets and other supplies entered Madaya, just 24 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of the capital Damascus. An equivalent amount of aid would also arrive in two northern towns of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib Province.

Reports have emerged over the past few days claiming that several people have died of starvation in the southwestern town of Madaya, most of them patients.

However, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari rebuffed reports of starving civilians in Madaya as fabrications, saying such accounts are intended to defame the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Ja’afari further reiterated the Syrian government’s commitment to cooperating fully with the UN and the Red Cross to deliver humanitarian aid to all civilians “without any discrimination,” including those in hard-to-reach areas.

The Syrian diplomat further noted that aid delivered to Madaya in October had been looted by terrorist groups and sold to civilians at prices they could not afford.

On Sunday, locals also told the Lebanese al-Manar TV that terrorist groups, including the so-called Jaish al-Fath and Ahrar al-Sham Movement, stored aid packages delivered to Madaya last October and sold it to the locals at sky-high prices.

According to the UN, up to 4.5 million people live in hard-to-reach areas of Syria which has witnessed a deadly conflict fueled by foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists since March 2011. — PressTV

Pin It