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UN Official: Partition of Syria Possible if No Improvement

  • Lisa Schlein

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, addresses a news conference on the latest developments in Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 12, 2015.

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, addresses a news conference on the latest developments in Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 12, 2015.

A senior United Nations official warns the partition of Syria is possible if the situation in the conflict-ridden country continues to deteriorate or is left in its current chaotic state.

Staffan de Mistura said he considers the possible partition of Syria as one of the worst-case scenarios, and he said the major powers and Syria's warring factions do not want this scenario to occur.

De Mistura, the secretary-general's special envoy for Syria, however, said he has noted a de facto partitioning already occurring.

“At the same time, the situation could move into a toxic type of cocktail and of a combination of a creeping Afghanistan with shades of Libya and Somalia," he said. "Hence the need of an urgent political process to start now.”

Dangerous dynamic

De Mistura said Russia’s military intervention in Syria has introduced a new and more dangerous dynamic, and he warned that accelerating the militarization of the conflict could lead to, what he called, an "incident" between the United States and Russia.

De Mistura said some things can and must be done to ease the suffering of Syria's people. He said there must be a de-escalation in violence and the Syrian forces must stop using barrel bombs, which kill and maim thousands indiscriminately.

Of particular and immediate importance, he said, is the evacuation of 46 severely wounded people and their family members from the rebel stronghold of Zadani on the border with Lebanon. He said another 92 wounded, along with their family members in the government-held villages of Kafraya and Fuaa in the northwest, also must be allowed to leave.

The U.N. official said aid agencies are prepared to evacuate them and that the operation could proceed right away as a cease-fire announced September 29 continues to hold.

De Mistura said he is headed to Moscow to discuss the medical evacuation, and a number of other urgent issues related to the conflict and its escalation since the stepped-up military action in Syria. He said he will leave for Washington immediately after that to confer with officials about the crisis and ways to get peace negotiations back on track.

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