Astana: Syrian opposition delegation heads talks

Syrian opposition figures were en route to the Kazakh capital on Wednesday for fresh talks on reinforcing a faltering six-week truce, a spokesman and other opposition officials told AFP.

The talks are set to begin on Thursday and, like an earlier round in January, will be sponsored by rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Russia and Iran.

“We are going now to Astana as the official opposition delegation,” spokesman Yehya Al-Aridi told AFP by phone.

Rebel figures will meet with representatives from Russia, Turkey, and the UN, he said.

The team will be again headed by Mohammad Alloush, a leading figure of Jaish Al-Islam, but would be “smaller” than the last round.

“We are going there for one particular thing, an essential matter: We were promised that there is going to be affirmation of the cease-fire,” Aridi said.

A truce deal brokered by Moscow and Ankara in December is faltering across Syria, with clashes reported in the southern city of Daraa and bombardment in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama.

The Istanbul-based National Coalition on Wednesday said these violations would make up a cornerstone of the Astana talks.

National Coalition spokesman Ahmad Ramadan said the delegation will include Alloush and five other opposition figures.

“The point of the delegation is… to send a message to the Russians regarding the lack of commitment to the Ankara (truce) agreement, six weeks after it was signed,” Ramadan told AFP.

He said violations included “aerial and artillery bombardment, forced displacement, the lack of a solution for detainees and the continued besiegement of 800,000 civilians.”

Alloush was also expected to insist that political matters — like a transition of power — be discussed only in upcoming UN-brokered talks in Geneva.

Russia is sending presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev to Astana while Iran said it is dispatching deputy foreign minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

Syrian state media reported Wednesday that a government delegation had arrived in Kazakhstan.

UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said he would not participate personally in Thursday’s meeting but that his office would be represented by a “technical team.”

The Astana initiative has left the West on the sidelines of the latest push to end the war in Syria that has claimed more than 310,000 lives since 2011.


Be the first to comment at "Astana: Syrian opposition delegation heads talks"

Write your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.