WORLD

Turkey, Iran, Russia condemn US move on Golan Heights

Turkey, Russia and Iran [three guarantor countries of Astana process on the Syria peace] reaffirmed their strong commitment "to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. In a joint statement following the international meeting on Syria in the Astana format in Nur-Sultan, they condemned the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Turkey, Russia, and Iran on Friday condemned the U.S. decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Syria's occupied Golan Heights.

In a joint statement, three guarantor countries of the Astana process for peace in Syria reaffirmed their strong commitment "to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter."

The statement came during a two-day meeting in Nur-Sultan, the recently renamed Kazakh capital, following an international meeting on Syria in the Astana format.

On March 25, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential proclamation officially recognizing the highlands on the border with Syria as Israel's territory.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

It occupies roughly two-thirds of the wider Golan Heights as a de facto result of the conflict.

It moved to formally annex the territory in 1981 -- an action unanimously rejected at the time by the UN Security Council.

The guarantor countries underscored that the UN principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them.

"In this regard they strongly condemned the decision of the US Administration to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, which constitutes a grave violation of international law, particularly the UN Security Council resolution 497, and threatens peace and security in the Middle East," read the statement.

- POLITICAL PROCESS, FIGHTING TERRORISM
The Astana process has been successful in bringing about a cease-fire in Syria and led to the creation of de-escalation zones.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

According to UN figures, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in the conflict, mainly by regime airstrikes in opposition-held areas.

The guarantor countries on Friday also agreed to fully implement coordinated patrols and effective functioning of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center.

They reaffirmed their determination to follow the Syrian-led and Syrian‑owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to continue fighting terror groups including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Daesh, Al-Nusra Front, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council.

They agreed that Syrian conflict cannot be solved through military means.

The statement pointed to consultations on a trilateral basis as well as with Geir O. Pedersen, the UN Syria envoy, in order to speed up work to launch a constitutional committee.

The next round of consultations is set to be held in Geneva.

Increasing the number of observers of the Astana format was discussed, and Syria's neighbors Iraq and Lebanon are to be invited to join the Astana format.

The guarantor countries also called on the UN and international community to increase their assistance to Syria.

They also decided to hold the next international meeting on Syria in the Astana format in Nur-Sultan this July.

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