Last updated: 23 July, 2013

UN Security Council to meet Syrian opposition

The UN Security Council is to hold its first meeting with the Syrian National Coalition leadership in New York on Friday, Britain announced.

The Syrian delegation, which is about to start a tour of European capitals, will be led by coalition chief Ahmad Assi Jarba, but could also include opposition military leaders.

Britain is convening an “informal” meeting of the 15-nation council, including Russia and China, to meet the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.

The meeting “will provide a forum for members of the council to have a frank and informal exchange with the national coalition, to discuss key issues relating to the Syrian conflict,” Grant said.

Issues to be discussed include: “ending the violence and preparing for the Geneva II conference; as well as addressing the issues of humanitarian access, human rights, refugees and protection of civilians,” he added.

The contacts will be held amid deadlock in efforts to convene a follow up to last year’s Geneva conference on efforts to establish a transitional government.

The military battle is also in stalemate with the UN saying up to 100,000 people have now been killed since protests against Assad started in March 2011.