According to a statement, published today, Ahrar al-Sham refuses to participate in peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition in Astana.
On Wednesday, one of the main Syrian militant groups, Ahrar al-Sham, announced that it will not participate in peace talks between the ‘moderate’ opposition and the Syrian government, which should take place in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana next week.
According to a statement of the group, it has taken a decision not to attend the negotiations due to the “lack of implementation of the ceasefire,” which came into force on December 30, 2016, as well as because of ongoing airstrikes of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria.
Astonishing: Ahrar al-Sham says it won’t attend Astana because, among other reasons, it doesn’t want to isolate Al Qaeda’s Fateh al-Sham JFS pic.twitter.com/acqqLxT0u9
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) January 18, 2017
Ahrar al-Sham was in the list of militant groups, which signed the ceasefire deal through the intermediary of Russia and Turkey last month. Despite the truce, which covers the main part of the country, fighting still continues in some areas of the Syrian Arab Republic. However, the ceasefire allowed Russia, Iran and Turkey to organize the peace talks in Astana, which should start next Monday.
According to the Ahrar al-Sham’s statement, an offensive of the Syrian Army on Wadi Barada, the main source of water for Damascus, located 15 kilometers (10 miles) to the northwest of the country’s capital, is another reason for the group to refuse to take part in the talks.
Last month, after mains water supplies to Damascus were cut, as militants polluted the water with diesel, Syrian troops launched the attack on Wadi Barada in order to return control over the area.
At the same time, Ahrar al-Sham said that it supports other militant groups, which will be represented at the Astana talks.
Reportedly, Mohammad Alloush, a prominent figure of the Jaish al-Islam coalition of Islamist groups, previously known as Liwa al-Islam (Brigade of Islam), will head a ‘military delegation,’ consisting of about eight people, backed by nine legal and political advisors from the High Negotiations Committee group.