World, Middle East

Opposition meet Russian delegates ahead of Astana talks

Astana peace talks set to begin next week to reinforce a ceasefire that went into effect in last December

Opposition meet Russian delegates ahead of Astana talks File photo

By Sibel Ugurlu


Syrian opposition and Russian delegations mediating peace talks due next week in Kazakh capital of Astana met Friday in Ankara.

The meeting was held in coordination with the Turkish co-guarantor of the cease-fire in Syria, the Syrian opposition's military delegation said in a statement.

According to the statement, the two delegations discussed the structure, the goal, and agenda of the Astana talks.

"The meeting also covered how they would lead to a political solution in Syria in accordance with the UN security council terms of reference, the Geneva communique and resolution 2254," read the statement.

"The opposition delegation stressed its respect and observation of the cease-fire and detailed the breaches of the cease-fire perpetrated by the Assad regime and Iranian militias," the statement added.

The statement also highlighted that the opposition delegation presented an initiative to the Russian side for observing the cease-fire, which went into effect on Dec. 20, and invited them to check the facts about what is happening in Wadi Barada and other threatened Syrian regions.

The Russian delegation "promised to transfer the Syrian opposition initiative to the Russian leadership for action."

The UN-led Geneva process, which aims to end Syria’s civil war, calls for the establishment of an interim government -- including both regime and opposition representatives -- until a new government can be elected in public polls.

Talks between the Syrian government and opposition negotiators are slated to begin on Jan. 23. in the Kazakh capital.

Following last month's ceasefire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia, the Astana meeting comes as part of ongoing efforts by both countries to find a political solution to the six-year-old conflict.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.

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