A Russian document circulating at the United Nations is proposing a constitutional reform process in Syria, lasting 18 months, to be followed by presidential elections. The document does not say whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should remain in power during that time. It does only say: “The president of Syria will not chair the constitutional commission”. Neither is it clearÂ who actually will be asked to participate in the eventual peace talks. The Russian proposal speaks of the launching of a political process between the Syrian government and “a united delegation of opposition groups”, and a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said that the priority ahead of next Saturday’s meeting should be to establish which Syrian opposition groups are to be regarded as partners in the process, and which are “terrorist” and unacceptable.
The Syrian army meanwhile has broken a siege in the north. Army units fought their way to Kuwairis airbase, east of Aleppo, and killed large numbers of Islamic State (IS) militants, reports said. The facility had been under the control of IS jihadists for nearly two years.
At least 22 people were also killed and many more wounded by rebel shellfire in the Mediterranean city of Latakia on Tuesday, state media and activists say. Latakia, which lies in the heartland of President Assad’s minority Alawite sect, has largely escaped the conflict that has devastated most of Syria and killed more than 250,000 people.