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Statement by the Friends of the Syria Core Group, Istanbul, 15 July 2014

The Friends of Syria Core Group welcomes the appointment of Mr. Staffan de Mistura, new Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria, and calls on all sides and the international community to fully support and cooperate with the Special Envoy in his mission.

We also welcome the new leadership of the Syrian Opposition Coalition led by newly elected Hadi Al Bahra and look forward to continued close cooperation.

We reaffirm our determination to support all efforts towards the political solution of the ongoing conflict in Syria in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

We reiterate our firm conviction that a genuine political transition based on the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué (30 June 2012) is needed to bring an end to bloodshed and suffering of the Syrian people. The current dictatorship must end. The transition must be led by the Syrians through the establishment, by mutual consent, of a Transitional Governing Body (TGB) with full executive powers, providing security safeguards for all Syrians. When the TGB is established, Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in Syria.

We welcome the recent unanimous vote of the UN Security Council resolution no. 2165 and call for its immediate and full implementation. We strongly condemn the continued violence of the Syrian regime against its own people. We note our growing concern about the increasingly dire situation in Aleppo caused by the regime’s military tactics, particularly the use of heavy weapons and barrel bombs. All those who committed war crimes or crimes against humanity must be held accountable.

We fully share the vision of the Syrian people for a Syria which will be democratic, pluralistic, respectful of human rights and the rule of law. Every citizen must enjoy full equality before the law regardless of his/her religious and ethnic background. The transition period must lead to the adoption of a new constitution, to be followed by free and fair elections. For the first time, Syrians must be allowed freely to elect their own political leadership. We all need to redouble our efforts to reach out to all Syrians including civil society groups who can play a positive role in reaching a political solution.

Assad’s regime is responsible for the chaos, instability, insecurity, pain and destruction prevailing in Syria and constitutes the root cause of the threats from Syria facing the region and beyond, particularly the growing threat from extremist and terrorist groups. We reaffirm our commitment to the moderate opposition fighting on both fronts, the regime and the extremist groups.

We express our resolve to tackle the extremist and terrorist threat in the region, address the needs of the refugees and internally displaced persons and start to rebuild the country.

We underline, once again, our commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.