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Syria: Politics and Government

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 52785, tabled on 14 November 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the cohesiveness and unity of purpose of the various groups within the Syrian opposition.

Answered on

21 November 2016

‚ÄčThe High Negotiations Committee (HNC) brings together the broadest range of Syrian opposition groups so far, including representatives of armed groups on the ground, with the purpose of negotiating a peaceful transition in Syria. In September the HNC set out a detailed vision for this political transition, to end the conflict. We welcomed the moderate, inclusive and pragmatic nature of this initiative and consider it a valuable contribution to the political process. The HNC includes a wide range of groupings of different political perspectives as well as regional, ethnic and confessional backgrounds. Their coming together to set out a shared vision for transition was a significant moment.

Since September the opposition has come under further pressure in Syria, not least because of the brutal offensive by the regime and its backers against east Aleppo, where up to 275,000 people have been cut off from all aid supplies for four months, and against other besieged areas. The UK continues to believe that the only long-term resolution to the Syrian conflict is a sustainable political settlement based on transition away from the rule of Bashar al-Asad. The moderate opposition have shown that they are ready and prepared to discuss this. The regime and its backers must now end their destructive military approach and return to the negotiating table.