U.S. Representative for Syria: Damascus puts on a publicity show

Amateur footage shows missiles falling over Damascus as airstrikes begin

Joel Rayburn believes the Syrian refugee conference organized by the Assad regime, Russia and Iran was convened for propaganda effect

US State Department Special Representative for Syria Joel Rayburn on Thursday criticized the “conference on the return of refugees” organized by official Damascus with the participation of Russia and Iran. During a telephone briefing, Joel Rayburn said that Washington considers the event, which took place in person on November 11-12 in the Syrian capital, as a “publicity stunt”.

“This is just propaganda. If you look at which countries were present at the conference, you will see that the vast majority of them are not directly related to the Syrian conflict. They are not the main host countries for refugees. These are not European countries or the main countries of the Arab world that, as you know, support the Syrian refugees by funding the UN Refugee Agency. For the most part, these are countries that have normal relations with the Iranian regime, “the diplomat said, answering a question from the Voice of America about how representative, according to the State Department, this event was..

The organizers of the conference announced the presence of representatives of 27 countries, despite the fact that the Western powers ignored the call for participation.

“This conference was more of a publicity show. For example, no promises were made to stop attacks on Syrian civilians, which are causing the refugee crisis in the first place. And there was no real effort on the part of Russia or the Assad regime to involve the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was just PR, nothing significant, just a “circus with horses” designed to divert attention from the fact that Russia and the Assad regime did not actually do what the international community demanded of them to do, namely, to end the war and go to a political solution to the conflict “, – said the US special envoy for Syria.

US Undersecretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Richard Albright, who took part in the briefing, responding to the same question from the Voice of America, recalled that “Turkey, which is home to more than half of Syrian refugees, was not even invited to the conference in Damascus.”.

During the conference in Damascus, representatives of the official authorities of Russia and Syria accused the West of creating obstacles to the return of people who left the country. The leader of the ruling Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, said that “there are big obstacles, in addition to the pressure to which Syrian refugees are subjected abroad to prevent their return, there are illegal economic sanctions and blockades imposed by the American regime and its allies.”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent his message to the conference, who also accused Washington of being hostile to the Syrian authorities: “One cannot but mention the unjustified refusal of a certain circle of countries led by the United States to participate in today’s humanitarian forum, which is being held in accordance with Resolution 2254. UN Security Council, as well as attempts to interfere with its implementation “.

U.S. Representative for Syria: Damascus puts on a publicity show

Representatives of the US State Department during a briefing on Thursday responded to these allegations: according to Joel Rayburn, “We saw at this conference that some of the countries that took part in it are the same countries that continue to kill and maim civilians in Syria, the same countries that forced millions of people to flee the country “.

“These countries are falsely claiming that Syria is now safe for refugees to return. Russia and the Assad regime, in particular, are trying to raise funds to rebuild Syria, for the destruction of which they themselves are responsible. The Assad regime continues to fund military operations that cost many millions of dollars a month, these are military operations that the Syrian regime is conducting against its own citizens. “.

Richard Albright also supported his colleague: “Russia and the regime are using refugees as pawns in a political game, believing that the return of refugees to Syria will give the regime legitimacy … The UN has made it clear that conditions in Syria are still extremely unstable. On the few occasions when people returned, they were too often faced with the need for re-displacement, in some cases with forced conscription, detention, disappearance and other human rights violations. People know about it and that’s why they don’t come back. “.

  • Danila Galperovich

    Reporter for the Russian Voice of America Service in Moscow. Collaborates with Voice of America since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and host of programs for the BBC Russian Service and Radio Liberty. Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.

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