Talks Between Syrian Government And ‘Opposition’ Kick Off In Kazakhstan

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Talks Between Syrian Government And 'Opposition' Kick Off In Kazakhstan

Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Negotiations between the Syrian government and the so-called “opposition groups” kicked off in the Kazakh capital of Astana on January 23.

Jaish al-Islam is the biggest militant group which participates in the talks. Another powerbroker, Ahrar al-Sham, which had been set to particiapte in the negotiations, rejected the idea last week.

The whole peaceful initiative is backed up by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran. The Kazakh government provides a field for the negotiations.

The initial goal of the talks is to discuss terms and conditions of the cesefire in order to improve the humanitarion condictions in the areas where it’s implemented.

Kazakhs President Nursultan Nazarbayev opened the talks, emphasizing that the conflict could be solved via political means:

“The current difficult situation in Syria has drawn the attention of the entire world. I have to admit that the bloody conflict, which has continued for about six years, has brought nothing but misery and sorrow to the holy land where different civilizations and cultures lived.”

Reuters reports that there will be no “face-to-face” talks between government representatives and the “opposition”, promoting the “rebel” view on the situation (as always):

“We will not enter into any political discussions and everything revolves over abiding by the ceasefire and the humanitarian dimension of easing the suffering of Syrians under siege and release of detainees and delivery of aid,” Yahya al Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation, told Reuters.

“The Syrian regime has an interest in diverting attention from these issues. If the Syrian regime thinks our presence in Astana is a surrender by us, this is a delusion,” he added.

The 14-member team has taken no decision on holding face-to-face talks with the government delegation after the start of the conference, he said, adding that it was likely to be via intermediaries like the previous U.N.-backed Geneva conferences.

“There are complications when you are going to face those who entered your country and continue to kill you, and a regime that has not abided by a ceasefire and continues with its policy of destruction and killing its people,” he said.

However, the live broadcast shows the presence of Abdullah Mohammed Alloush, a politiacl leader of Jaish al-Islam.

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