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Syrian opposition to stay away from Astana talks

© Provided by The Rahnuma Daily

Author: AFPTue, 2017-03-14ID: 1489440424848312200
BEIRUT: Syrian opposition factions will not attend a new round of negotiations with regime figures in the Kazakh capital, an opposition delegation spokesman told AFP on Monday.
“Opposition groups have decided not to participate in Astana,” said Osama Abu Zeid, adding that one reason for the boycott was “unfulfilled pledges related to the cessation of hostilities.”
The third round of talks in Astana, sponsored by regime ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
The Astana track has aimed to reinforce a fragile cease-fire deal brokered by Moscow and Ankara in December.
“We decided not to participate in Astana because the reinforcement of the cease-fire was not implemented,” said Ahmad Othman, commander of the Ankara-backed Sultan Murad opposition group.
“The regime and the militias are continuing to bomb, displace and besiege,” he told AFP, and opposition groups had informed the talks’ sponsors of their decision.
Syrian state television on Monday reported that the regime delegation, headed by Bashar Al-Jaafari, Syria’s representative to the UN, had arrived in the Kazakh capital.
A fresh round of negotiations in Switzerland is set to begin on March 23 and will focus on governance, the constitution, elections, counter-terrorism and possibly reconstruction, according to UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.
Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, discussed the Astana meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, according Lavrov’s office.
Meanwhile, the regime and the opposition said they had agreed a Russian-supervised deal to complete the evacuation of fighters and civilians from the last opposition-held part of Homs city.
The new agreement aims to finalize implementation of a “reconciliation deal” that has already seen several phases of opposition evacuation from the Waer district, but which had stalled in recent months.
State news agency SANA said opposition and their families wishing to leave Waer would begin evacuating from Saturday, and the process would last no longer than two months.
A summary of the agreement shared by the opposition National Coalition said that those evacuating Waer would go to opposition-held north Homs province, Jarabulus in Aleppo province or Idlib province.
It also said a military contingent of 60-100 Russian troops would deploy in Waer to monitor the deal’s implementation and the safety of remaining residents and returning civilians.
Opposition fighters backed by Turkish forces have taken some towns near northern Syria’s Manbij, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish president, said.
The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighters have been advancing toward Manbij after clearing Daesh from Al-Bab. 

Main category: Middle-East

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