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UN envoy discusses Syria 'freeze zone' with Assad

Steffan De Mistura holds talks with Syrian regime over his plan to implement zones to halt fighting.

UN envoy discusses Syria 'freeze zone' with Assad


The UN envoy tasked with resolving the Syrian civil war held "constructive discussions" with Syria's embattled president on a plan for establishing "freeze zones" to halt ongoing fighting, the UN Secretary-General's office said Monday.

"[Steffan] de Mistura takes note of the expressed intent of the Syrian authorities to work with the United Nations to identify common ground for implementing his proposal on incremental 'freezes,' starting with the city of Aleppo," a statement said.

De Mistura was in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday in his third visit to the country since he was appointed to his post in July.

He mentioned an "action plan" on Oct. 31 that envisages establishing a special zone in Aleppo in which fighting would stop, leading to the delivery of humanitarian aid and the build-up of the political process at a local level.

"The Special Envoy and his team intend to proceed now expeditiously on working out the modalities of a freeze in Aleppo city, through further discussions with the Syrian authorities, and intensified consultations with all parties concerned," read the statement.

A focal point of the ongoing civil war, Syria's most populous city and commercial center remains besieged on one side by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and ISIL militants on the other. The Western-backed opposition faction Free Syrian Army controls some key neighborhoods.

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 UN. 

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