Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said he had handed his Russian counterpart a plan for ceasefire in Aleppo and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces for a possible prisoner swap.
Russia has persuaded Syria to agree to a prisoner swap and a local ceasefire in an effort to rescue a crucial peace conference plan.
After talks in Moscow with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said he had handed Mr Lavrov a plan for a ceasefire in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces for a possible prisoner swap.
“Taking into the account the role of the Russian Federation in ending the bloodshed in Syria, as well as our trust-based relations, I have handed Minister Lavrov today a plan for security measures in Aleppo,” Mr Moualem said at a joint press conference with Mr Lavrov.
Mr Lavrov praised Syria’s readiness, “in response to our appeals,” to take “a series of humanitarian steps” to allow speedy delivery of assistance to “Eastern Ghuta and other areas, including the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.”
The Syrian opposition has been demanding the end of government bombardment, the release of prisoners and relief aid to besieged areas as a precondition for its participation in the Geneva-2 international conference opening in Switzerland next Wednesday.
If the proposed prisoner exchange comes through it would be the first one in nearly three years of fighting in Syria.
Syria’s offer of concessions is another win for Russia’s steamroller plan to prevent a violent change of regime in Syria. The initiative came hours before the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an umbrella group of several opposition groups, met in Turkey on Friday to vote on whether to attend Geneva-2. Several rebel groups, opposed to peace talks with Damascus, have recently split from the SNC.
Addressing the press conference with Mr Moualem on Friday Mr Lavrov hit out at “games” being played over the invitation of Syrian opposition groups to Geneva-2.
“We have come to know that no formal invitations have been sent to the National Coalition or any other opposition groups,” the Russian Foreign Minister said, refuting earlier reports that the SNC had received an invitation.
Noting that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was apparently waiting for the SNC to decide on attendance, Mr Lavrov said:
“All those who put all their eggs in the National Coalition’s basket, and who moreover regard it as the only group representing the opposition, should think hard what role they are playing in the Geneva-2 plan.”
Mr Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s view that “a full spectrum of opposition” should be invited to the peace conference, including the National Coordination Council, a centrist internal opposition group, and the Syrian Kurds.