Syrian opposition meets with French President Emmanuel Macron amid fresh push for peace in Syria

President of the Syrian Negotiation Commission, Nasr Al Hariri has met with a number of European leaders ahead of peace talks next week

Sumaya Bairuty, 38, an English-language teacher who works in the capital Damascus, walks to her parents house in the war-damaged Bab Dreib neighborhood of Homs, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.  It has been almost four years since the last remaining rebels and civilians withdrew from the remaining strongholds in the ancient heart of Homs in Syria. But few people have returned, and large parts of the once vibrant old city are still abandoned and destroyed, as if time had stood still since the guns fell silent. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The head of Syria’s main civil opposition body, has met with French president Emmanuel Macron amid a renewed international effort to find peace in the country’s civil war.

The meeting took place in Paris on Wednesday, as Nasr Al Hariri, resident of the Syrian Negotiation Commission held a flurry of meetings with high level European leaders in an effort to push back against peace talks held under Russian auspices in Sochi.

Al Hariri traveled to London off the back of a trip to Brussels on Monday where he held meetings with senior EU figures including EU Foreign Affairs representative Federica Mogherini, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, as well as the UN special envoy for Syria, Steffan De Mistura. Al Hariri is set to visit Italy and Germany later this week to meet with their foreign ministers.


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After meeting Tuesday with UK Minister for the Middle East, Alister Burt, Mr Al Hariri thanked the UK for its commitment to the UN-led Geneva political process, stressing the importance of the UN-led process in Geneva as the sole venue for Syria’s political solution. He added that Russian support for the Sochi talks was an effort to undermine the Geneva process, which his organisation has yet to commit to participating in.

In a statement following the meeting, Mr Burt said “After nearly seven years of conflict and over 400,000 deaths, it is abundantly clear that only a political settlement can bring a durable end to the human suffering and the regional instability the conflict fuels.”

Speaking to media Tuesday, Al Hariri also called on top EU and North American leaders to get tough on Assad. "It is time for President Trump, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister May to say: 'Stop'. It is time for Trump, Merkel and May to increase pressure and bring the international community together to get a genuine and just political situation in Syria", he said.

He also emphasised the need to protect civilians in Eastern Ghouta, Idlib, and across Syria facing the regimes “brutal, indiscriminate violence”.

Speaking on Syria, the former UK foreign secretary, David Miliband urged the UK government not to forget about civilians being killed in Syria, he said “It cannot be right that civilians are being bombed to hell without the UN security council playing any role at all. It has been driven off the scene.”

The next round of talks in the so called Geneva peace process are set to begin in Vienna next week. The talks come amid a surprise offensive launched by the Al Assad regime in the rebel held province of Idlib, more than 2 million people are currently believed to be in the rebel held province.