12:32 GMT +321 February 2019
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    Federalization Issue Must Be Decided by Syrian People - HNC Head

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    The head of Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee Riad Hijab said only the country's people have the right to shape its future and ruled out any possibility of joining forces with other opposition groups during Geneva peace talks.

    GENEVA (Sputnik) — The issue of Syria's federalization must be decided by the country's people, head of the opposition's High Negotiations Committee Riad Hijab said Monday.

    "Any issue of Syrian future, whether it is federalization or anything else, should be decided by the Syrian people only," Hijab told reporters.

    He said those who violate the ceasefire regime in Syria are not being held accountable for their actions.

    "There is no cessation of hostilities on the ground. No one who violates is held accountable."

    Hijab said that the group could not accept negotiations on a political solution in Syria while people were suffering.

    "We are here in Geneva because we want a political solution. But our intention was misunderstood. We can not accept negotiations while our people are suffering," Riad Hijab told reporters.

    "We will not compromise…we will not concede to leaving our rights and principles of the Syrian revolution. We want to get rid of the corrupt government. Bashar Assad will not stay," HNC head Riad Hijab said.

    HNC called on the International Syria Support Group on Monday to reassess the ceasefire regime in Syria, as well as the agreed humanitarian procedures.

    "ISSG needs to gather and to reconsider humanitarian procedures that they agreed upon and to reevaluate the truce, which has ended," Hijab told reporters.

    He ruled out the possibility of joining forces with other opposition groups.

    "We have members who represent all the factions of Syrian geography. We will not accept to have a delegation that represents oppositions other than the HNC. Hmeymim or other names that emerge are not acceptable. They are sent by the regime."

    Four delegations are taking part in the intra-Syrian talks — the delegation of the Syrian government, the HNC formed after talks in Riyadh, the opposition delegation formed after talks in Moscow, Cairo and Astana and the opposition delegation formed at the Hmeymim airbase in the country.

    Bashar Jaafari, the head of the government's delegation at Geneva talks, told Sputnik on Monday that the Damascus delegation would "pray for" direct talks with the opposition once a unified delegation of all Syrian opposition forces is formed.

    Earlier in the day, the Hmeymim opposition group said it had discussed the idea of reforming all the opposition delegations at Geneva talks and forming a new, unified one with China's Special Envoy for Syria.

    Last week, a source at the negotiations told Sputnik that a unified delegation of opposition would be formed after the current round ended. It would include 15 members and bring together the representatives of the Riyadh-backed HNC, Moscow-Cairo-Astana group, domestic opposition formed at the Hmeymim airbase, Syrian women's council and the Kurds.

    Some members of the Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee will remain in Geneva and hold technical talks with UN's Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, despite the group postponing its formal participation in the intra-Syrian talks.

    "We are suspending our participation in the talks. We will not have meetings at the UN Palais. But some of our brothers and sisters have work to do here. They will stay here and can have technical meetings with de Mistura at the hotels," Hijab told reporters.

    "I am traveling today. Some other HNC members left Geneva yesterday, and some will do it today. Some members will stay, as I said," he added.

    On Monday, HNC put on hold its participation in the intra-Syria talks, citing serious violations of the cessation of hostilities recently and worsening of the situation with humanitarian aid access.


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    federalization, Intra-Syria talks, Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Riad Hijab, Syria
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