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US urges new Syria peace strategy

June 28, 2019

US officials have called for the UN to "try other routes to achieving the political solution." The UN envoy for Syria has failed to make progress on a post-war constitution, once considered a priority for new elections.

A Syrian soldier stands guard at his post overlooking the Damascus-Aleppo highway in the central Syrian town of Rastan
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/H. Ammar

The US on Thursday urged the UN to find a new way forward for the Syrian conflict, saying its efforts to establish a political solution have so far failed to gain traction.

"It is time to admit that not only has progress stalled, it is likely to remain out of reach for some time, because that's where the regime wants it to be," said acting US Ambassador to the UN Jonathan Cohen.

Cohen said a 17-month effort to form a committee that would re-write Syria's constitution has stalled due to the regime's disagreements over its makeup.

"The time has come for the Security Council to encourage special envoy (Geir) Pedersen to try other routes to achieving the political solution," Cohen said.

Read more:Civilians in Syria's Idlib caught between front lines 

'Pressure on the regime'

The UN views a new constitution as a key step towards a political solution to the eight-year conflict that would pave the way for elections.

But Cohen said the UN envoy for Syria should instead focus on preparing elections that would include refugee participation in the vote. Securing a permanent ceasefire across the country and the release of political detainees is also paramount, he added.

The White House "will seek any and every opportunity to ratchet up our pressure on the regime and its supporters if political progress on humanitarian and political tracks continues to stall," Cohen said.

Read more: Rebuilding Assad's Syria: Who should foot the bill?

 A woman who was evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State militants holds her baby after being screened by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces
Millions of Syrians have fled their homes due to the conflictImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Dana

No end in sight

More than 300,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.

At the time, government forces launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters calling for the release of political prisoners and President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Since then, the conflict has evolved into a multi-fronted war involving global powers, neighboring countries and non-state actors, including the US, Russia and Iran.

Read more: How a German mining town became a recruiting ground for IS

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ls/ (AP, AFP)