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UN proposes 'freeze zones' to halt fighting in Syria

UN envoy for Syria presents an action plan” to ease suffering from the more than three-year war in Syria.

UN proposes 'freeze zones' to halt fighting in Syria


The U.N. envoy tasked with resolving the Syrian civil war has proposed establishing 'freeze zones' to halt the more than three-and-a-half years of fighting in the country.

In his first briefing to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, Steffan de Mistura presented an "action plan" that involves implementing zones in which fighting would stop, in an effort to bring in humanitarian aid and to build the political process at a local level.

"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.


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