Ukraine in Arabic | U.N. envoy proposes special zones to stop Syria fighting

Staffan de Mistura says local ceasefires in different parts of the war-torn country could help get aid deliveries in.

KYIV/Ukraine in Arabic/ U.N. peace envoy Staffan de Mistura proposed Thursday to set up so-called “freeze zones” in war-torn Syria to suspend fighting in some areas and allow humanitarian aid to be delivered.

"Daesh (Arabic term for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is to be stopped...we must see whether we can implement some incremental freeze zones, in order to make sure that in those areas, we will be able to build first a political process at the local level and then eventually the national level. Give hope to the local population and avoid the fight which is going on at the moment,” de Mistura said in his speech.

He told reporters after the briefing that the city of Aleppo was the good first candidate for hosting such a zone according to his plan.

"[Aleppo] is a place that has an iconic value and at the same time is a symbol on its own which we hope could become an opportunity of showing that somewhere in Syria ... some improvement can take place," he said.

A focal point of the ongoing civil war, Syria's second city and commercial center remains besieged from two sides by the Assad regime and the militants of ISIL, with the Western-backed opposition faction Free Syrian Army controlling some key neighborhoods.

Explaining why he preferred not calling the planned situation a "cease-fire," the envoy said: "We are talking about something different which should not be imposed by either of the two sides, it should be something that freezes the conflict in that area and give them opportunity for some type of humanitarian improvement."

De Mistura, who was appointed to his post in July, recently visited several countries including Assad allies Iran and Russia.

The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has claimed more than 150,000 lives, and nearly 11 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country, according to the U.N.

A drop of peace

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jafaari said his government was ready to give the envoy's proposals "due consideration" and that he would hear more about the plan during a meeting on Friday.

Council members were cautiously open to the idea which could be the first steps toward a national dialogue, but requested more details, according to diplomats.

Concerns were raised over whether the Assad regime would use the pause in ground fighting to launch more bombing against civilians and gain the upper hand over opposition forces.

"We have to start somewhere," said De Mistura who acknowledged that while this may be only "a drop" in the peace process, "many drops can produce a lake and a lake can produce a sea."

The Council heard from senior UN aid official Kyung-wha Kang that the humanitarian crisis was worsening, with "millions of Syrians forced to live in appalling conditions where there is no safe refuge".

"Tens of thousands of Syrians were forced to flee their homes again this month, many of them for the second or third time."

Despite a UN resolution authorizing cross-border aid deliveries without Syria's consent, Kang acknowledged that UN agencies were "still unable to deliver sufficient quantities of aid to people in the hardest to reach areas".

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