Remaining strongholds of Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) terrorists in Syria are likely to fall by the end of October, which must be the trigger for the international community to push for free and fair elections, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Friday.
“What we are seeing is in my opinion the beginning of the end of this war… what we need to make sure is that this becomes also the beginning of peace. And that is where the challenge starts at this very moment,” he said in a BBC radio interview, Reuters reported.
Three places were still far from stabilized, de Mistura said, namely Raqqah, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib.
“After Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, and that is a matter of a few months, there will be a moment of truth. If the international community will be helping both the opposition and the government by pushing the government to accept a real negotiation, then within a year it would be a possibility of having a truly credible election.”
The city of Deir ez-Zor has been under siege by Daesh terrorists for years, forcing the UN to conduct an unprecedented and expensive high-altitude airdrop campaign to supply the population.
“The Syrian government and the Russians are very likely between now and the end of this month or perhaps early October, latest, to actually liberate it,” de Mistura said.
Syrian Democratic Forces “will probably liberate Raqqa by the end of October”.
The third area, Idlib, is “full of al Nusra, which is al-Qaeda,” de Mistura said, referring to the Nusra Front, a one-time al-Qaeda affiliate, also known as the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
“We are getting close to some kind of understanding even among those who have been involved in the conflict that the priority is to close it. What we need to do is wrap it up in a way that is stabilized, not just close the conflict.”
Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh, currently controlling parts of it.
According to a report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.