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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN envoy holds high-level talks with Syrian officials on plan to 'freeze' Aleppo conflict

10 November 2014 – In his effort to resolve the ongoing civil war in Syria and initiate peace talks between rebel forces and the Syrian Government, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, today reported "constructive discussions" with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regarding his recent proposal on incremental "freezes" to be applied to specific zones of conflict.

Mr. de Mistura's plan, first presented to the Security Council on 30 October, would initially seek to freeze the fighting and create an environment whereby humanitarian aid could reach the beleaguered population in Aleppo. Additionally, it would also provide visible proof that the on-the-ground narrative can be shifted from a military one to a political one.

In an interview with UN Radio last week, the Special Envoy expressed hope that if the "freezes" could be replicated, "then we may have a formula to cool off, if nothing else, the environment in Syria and lead to a political process."

"The proposed 'freezes', as envisaged by the United Nations, are intended first and foremost to lead to a de-escalation of violence, starting from specific areas with a national impact, and allow for return to some normalcy for the civilians caught in the conflict," Mr. de Mistura said in a statement released today following his meeting with President al-Assad.

"In this respect the city of Aleppo has taken on renewed significance. Ongoing diplomatic efforts would then also build on such an incremental freezing of military activities to arrive to a national all-inclusive political process," he added.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 150,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. At least 10.8 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria, including at least 6.5 million who are internally displaced.

The violence has also spawned a refugee crisis flooding neighbouring countries with some 2.5 million people.

The Special Envoy noted that he and his team would now proceed "expeditiously" as they worked out the modalities of freezing the conflict in Aleppo through further discussions with the Syrian authorities and other concerned parties.

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