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Syrian opposition’s Cairo group says it condemns terrorist attack in Homs

February 26, 19:00 updated at: February 26, 21:50 UTC+3 GENEVA

Damascus’ chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari said he would consider all those who refused to condemn this terrorist attack as supporters of terrorists

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GENEVA, February 26. /TASS/. The so-called Cairo group of the Syrian opposition condemns the explosion in Homs as a terrorist attack committed by Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia), Jihad Makdissi, one of the group’s leaders, told TASS on Sunday.

"We did issue a condemnation for al-Nusra, " he said. "Al-Nusra group is a terrorist group it is listed by the UN and acknowledged as a terrorist group. And we acknowledge that it is an absolutely terrorist group and all its activity is condemned."

"I have already sent him [United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura - TASS] my position yesterday that we condemn al-Nusra. So he knows my position Mr. Jaafari [the head of Damascus’ delegation - TASS] said that he wants to have the position of everybody and we have nothing to hide. We are absolutely against terrorism and this is terrorism," Makdissi said.

Jabhat al-Nusra militants attacked headquarters of law enforcement agencies in the city of Homs (165 kilometers away from Damascus) in the morning on February 25. The attacks were repelled, the terrorists were not let inside the buildings but detonated their bombs. As a result, thirty people were killed, more than 30 were wounded. Among those killed was chief of Homs’ military security General Hassan Dabul.

Damascus’ chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, who is Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said on the same day he would consider all those who refused to condemn this terrorist attack as supporters of terrorists.

Not having one delegation should not hamper Geneva talks

Not having one opposition delegation should not be an obstacle to the intra-Syrian settlement talks in Geneva, Jihad Makdissi told TASS.

"Everybody is talking that there is a problem of three platforms and not one delegation. So today I will be telling Mr. de Mistura that in diplomacy multilateralism is also a way to deal with problems," he said. "We want to have one delegation but not having it shouldn’t stop the talks."

"I’m going to ask him today: please lest build on something, instead of asking us to unify in person. Nothing personal. We want to unify on visions," Makdissi noted. "You know us for the last five to six years now and you know our political vision and their political vision. So, you can have a text that what you see is common and let’s build on it. And if we manage to have our OK, the Moscow platform OK, the HNC OK, so this is rapprochement. You can narrow gaps and get people closer on position."

Three groups of the Syrian opposition, namely the High Negotiations Committee (HNC, or the Riyadh group), the Cairo and the Moscow groups, are taking part in the Geneva talks.

Anti-terrorism efforts

Anti-terrorism efforts were not raised at today’s meeting of the Cairo platform of the Syrian opposition with United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, Makdissi said.

He said the meeting focused on three major issues, namely elections, administration and constitution. Other matters were not raised.

"We did not discuss terrorism. We discussed three ‘piers’ - three major issues: elections, administration and constitution," he said. "No other issues were raised by de Mistura either."

Jabhat al-Nusra militants attacked headquarters of law enforcement agencies in the city of Homs (165 kilometers away from Damascus) in the morning on February 25. The attacks were repelled, the terrorists were not let inside the buildings but detonated their bombs. As a result, thirty people were killed, more than 30 were wounded. Among those killed was chief of Homs’ military security General Hassan Dabul.

Damascus’ chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, who is Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said on the same day he would consider all those who refused to condemn this terrorist attack as supporters of terrorists.

Unite with HNC

The Cairo platform of the Syrian opposition wants to form a unified delegation to the talks with the government but it doesn’t want to merge with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC),  Jihad Makdissi said.

The HNC, in his words, wants some representatives of the Cairo and Moscow platforms to join it and share its vision. The Cairo platform doesn’t want such merger, he stressed.

"We think that a unified delegation is to be formed on both technical and political platform. If we want to have one delegation it should be in conformity with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254," Makdissi said. "If we all agree, we will be able to form a unified delegation. No, dynamics need to be changed."

He told TASS earlier commenting on a meeting with HNC representatives on February 24, which reportedly focused on unification of the delegation, that he Cairo platform does not want to merge with HNC. "They want us to sit and be HNC and that’s melting. We don’t want to melt," he said. "We have other proposal. We said we can coordinate. We don’t want to build our rapprochement on emotion because it will fail. We need to build on vision.

"If we agree on the unity of Syria for instance and you agree so we are close on this," he stressed.

"Whatever they proposed for us, they are proposing to melt. It won’t work. We don’t want to merge. What we want to have is partnership coordination, consultation," he added.

Simplification of the negotiating process

The Cairo platform of the Syrian opposition has received a proposal from Staffan de Mistura on simplification of the negotiating process in Geneva, Jihad Makdissi said.

He said it was a positive meeting. De Mistura, in his words, offered two documents, one of which envisaged simpler conditions for talks with other opposition platforms and the government delegation.

Syria’s new constitution

It is premature to discuss Syria’s new constitution until a political solution to the conflict is reached, Jihad Makdissi said.

"It is too early to discuss the constitution until we have no political settlement and no mechanism of electing state institutions," he said.

The formation of the government, schedule of the constitution preparations and future elections in Syria are the three basic topics for the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva as fixed by de Mistura on the basis on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254.

However following a series of terrorist attacks in Syria’s Homs on February 25 that claimed the lives of 30 people, the leader of the Syrian government delegation and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari, said that anti-terrorist efforts are to be the only topic at the talks.

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