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U.N. Syria envoy says Islamic State threat may encourage local truces: BBC

BEIRUT: A common threat posed by Islamic State militants to Syria’s warring factions may help push government and rebel forces toward local truces, the United Nations’ peace envoy to Syria said in an interview published on Tuesday.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura is pushing an initiative to create “incremental freeze zones” to stop localized fighting and improve aid access, starting in the northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted on Monday as saying the proposal was “worth studying”.

De Mistura told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that Islamic State, which is also known as ‘Daesh’ and ‘ISIS’, was “destabilizing everybody”.

Asked what incentive rebel and government fighters may have to accept local truces, de Mistura said: “There is one major new factor. What is that called? Daesh. ISIS. Terrorism.”

The militants have seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and are now the target of U.S.-led air strikes.

“Second … no one is actually winning (in Syria’s civil war),” de Mistura added. “You think that one side may be winning? The truth is no one is. And that’s why we have an idea about how to push at least one major example, Aleppo.”

De Mistura acknowledged that, even if the U.N. plan went forward, it would only be an initial step in a conflict which has killed some 200,000 people and displaced millions.

“Saying having a peace plan would be ambitious and delusionary. But I do have, we do have, an action plan. And the action plan starts from the ground: stop the fighting, reduce the violence,” he said. -Reuters

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