Syrian Opposition Set Conditions for Participating in Talks in Kazakh Capital

The Syrian opposition have demanded a series of preconditions before they will agree to participate in the third round of peace talks in Astana scheduled for March 14-15.

The spokesman for the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, Essam al Rayes, who was part of the opposition delegation at earlier rounds of talks, said on Sunday that “for the moment, the Free Syrian Army will not participate in the conference” unless several requirements are met.

Al Rayes emphasized that the main reasons for the reluctance of opposition factions to attend the meeting in the Kazakh capital are “noncompliance on the part of the regime with the cease-fire in Ghouta (near Damascus) and the continuation of violence in Al Waer,” the only neighborhood with an insurgent presence in Homs.

The Military Delegation of the Revolutionary Forces of Syria, which includes the factions that have negotiated in the past in Astana, on Saturday called for full compliance with the cease-fire in the zones under opposition control and for “the forced demographic change in Al Waer” to be halted as preconditions for the new round of talks.

In addition, it requested in its statement that the date for the meeting in Kazakhstan be postponed.

Three days ago, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced the convening of a third round of talks on March 14-15.

“The delegations of Russia, Turkey and Iran will take part in the talks. We have invited representatives of the UN, the United States and Jordan. The delegations of the Syrian government and the armed Syrian opposition should confirm their participation,” said the ministry in a statement.

On March 7, Moscow reported the implementation of a cease-fire through March 20 in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital.

 

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