Another try: New talks bring hope of ending Syrian war

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Two days of talks, which marked the first time in the nearly six-year-long conflict the Western-backed rebel opposition coalition and regime representatives had come face to face for negotiations, ended on Tuesday to mixed reaction from the two camps.

Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov read out a statement at the end of Tuesday's session saying that the delegations of Iran, Russia and Turkey made a decision to "establish a trilateral mechanism to observe and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire, prevent any provocations and determine all modalities of the ceasefire".

The talks mark the beginning of the latest diplomatic initiative to put an end to almost six years of war in Syria, which have left much of the country in ruins, killed almost half a million people, and displaced half of the population.

"We are in the process of agreeing on the closing statement which will be presented to the participants", Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian envoy to Syria, who's leading Russia's delegation to the talks in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana, told reporters late Monday.

The joint initiative by Russia, Turkey and Iran suffered a setback Monday when opposition groups rejected face-to-face meetings with government representatives at the peace talks in Kazakhstan.

It also calls for Syria's rebels to separate from the al-Qaida-linked group, known as Fatah al-Sham.

Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed upon an agenda to help settle the Syrian crisis earlier in a trilateral meeting held in Moscow on December 20 and the Resolution 2336 was adopted by UNSC on Dec. 31 to support an inclusive ceasefire in Syria and the political process.

Staffan de Mistura, UN Special Envoy for Syria, said in December 2016 that the United Nations plans to resume the talks on February 8, 2017.


According to Al-Shami, the opposition asked that in addition to ISIS, the list should include 40 Shi'ite factions that involve Lebanon's "Hezbollah" and the Syrian Democratic Army. "As long as there are terrorists depriving seven million people in the capital of water we will continue the operation".

Astana: Russia and regional powers Turkey and Iran backed a shaky truce between Syria's warring parties on Tuesday and agreed to monitor its compliance, but on the ground rebels faced continued fighting on two fronts which could undermine the deal.

Opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush said he had reservations about the text which he said legitimised Iran's "bloodletting" in Syria and did not address the role of Shi'ite militias fighting rebels.

The statement says the three nations will continue their joint efforts in fighting the Islamic State group and the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. "They only know actions", said Osama Abo Zayd, an opposition representative.

While the Astana meeting provided an effective platform for talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, there's an "urgent necessity to step up efforts to jumpstart the negotiation process", they said in the statement.

The US, busy with the presidential transition, had no significant role in the talks.

An official in one of the rebel groups said the attack in rural areas west of Aleppo overnight, was the first time Fateh Al Sham had attacked the FSA groups in that area. We sent our proposal to Mr.de Mistura. "We can not allow a third ceasefire to go to waste because of a lack of a political process", he said in his closing remarks in Astana.

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