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‘US-led assault on Raqqah unlawful if not coordinated with Damascus’

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari has stressed that any US- or Turkish-backed military offensive against the militant-held northern city of Raqqah must be coordinated with the Syrian government otherwise it would be illegitimate.

Countries backing militant groups in Syria, such as Britain, France, Turkey and Qatar, are sponsors of terrorism, and the escalated fighting between government forces and Takfiri terrorists on the outskirts of Damascus is designed to disrupt the UN-sponsored Syria peace talks in the Swiss city of Geneva and those in the Kazakh city of Astana, Ja’afari told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

“All the terrorist attacks, as I said, are pushing everybody towards a total failure and fiasco in the political and diplomatic process,” he pointed out.

The Syrian chief negotiator emphasized that his delegation would never walk away from the ongoing peace talks in Geneva.

Ja’afari questioned the airstrikes of the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh terror group, saying only Syrian troops are fighting terrorists with the help of Russia and Iran.

The fifth round of Syria talks kicked off in Geneva on Thursday. The deputy UN special envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, separately met representatives from the Damascus government and the main opposition delegation, the High Negotiations Committee.

Ramzy said he had held preliminary talks with each side and hoped to begin “substantive discussions” on Friday.

UN Special Envoy for Syria joined Geneva peace talks on Friday.

De Mistura is trying to mediate a political agreement between Syria’s warring sides. The two sides have not had face-to-face meetings in four previous rounds under his auspices since early 2016. He has presided over all those rounds.