Rebels: Assad, Russia to blame if peace talks fail
Syrian armed rebel groups said they held the Syrian government and Russia responsible for any failure of peace talks
Syrian armed rebel groups said on Saturday they held the Syrian government and Russia responsible for any failure of peace talks to end the country’s civil war, even before negotiations due to start in Geneva next week.
Syria’s opposition has demanded an end to government sieges and a halt to Russian air raids as goodwill measures before they will attend talks set for Jan. 25. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insists the talks must go ahead next week.
“We hold the Assad regime and its Russian ally responsible for any failure of the political process due to their continued war crimes” including sieges and bombardment of civilian areas, a joint statement from dozens of rebel factions said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday after talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in Saudi Arabia that he was confident Syria peace talks would proceed.
Earlier, opposition officials said Friday there was no agreement on a delegation as a new wave of air raids in eastern Syria killed at least 40 people.
The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has the final say on the delegation and who will receive invitations to attend the talks.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq indicated Friday that the talks probably will not start on Monday, telling reporters that the U.N. envoy would hold a news conference in Geneva that afternoon to talk about next steps. Others have said the talks may be delayed by a few days.
“Where we stand on this right now is that Staffan de Mistura, expects to at least roll out the process a bit on Monday,” Haq said. “How that happens will become more clear on that date.”
At the Geneva news conference, he said de Mistura will “give some more details on what will happen next.”
Many in the opposition say Russia wants to add names to the delegation that opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar announced this week by the Saudis.
Abdul-Basit Sieda of the Saudi-backed opposition said they reject Russia’s desire to add names to the opposition list.
One senior Kurdish official denounced the negotiating team announced in Saudi Arabia as a “delegation of jihadis.”
Another opposition official said Moscow wants to add to the delegation among others, Qadri Jamil, a former Syrian deputy prime minister, as well as Saleh Muslim, the co-president of the largest Kurdish group, the Democratic Union Party or PYD.
Turkey, which has its own large and restive Kurdish population, strongly opposes any PYD participation. The PYD’S military wing has been instrumental in the fight against ISIS in northern Syria. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details about the talks.
“The PYD wants to hijack the Kurdish cause in Syria,” said Sieda, himself a Kurd, but an opponent of the PYD.
Rival camps bicker over teams for Syria peace talksAfter years of war an agreement has been reached that talks should go ahead ... Middle East
Syria talks to start even if opposition boycotts: Russian diplomatRussia will back an alternative Syrian opposition delegation to negotiate with ... Middle East
Syria picks U.N. envoy as chief negotiator for peace talksSyria’s U.N. envoy will be the regime’s chief negotiator in upcoming peace talks, ... Middle East
Turkish PM says no role for 'terrorist groups' in Syria talksAhmet Davutoglu accused Russia on Thursday of jeopardizing peace talks on Syria Middle East
U.N., NGOs demand end to Syria ‘carnage’The appeal came as the U.N. is scrambling to try to kick-start a new round of ... Middle East
Syria peace efforts haunted by 2014 Geneva talksThe Assad regime has made a habit out of guaranteeing the safe transfer of ... Middle East Opinion
Syria peace talks face hurdles, possible delayThe 17 countries pushing for a peace deal are struggling to agree on the list of ... Middle East
U.S., Russia agree Jan. 25 Syria talks must go forwardThe United States and Russia agreed that Jan. 25 Syria peace talks involving the ... Middle East
World powers to push for lifting sieges in SyriaWorld powers will push for ‘immediate action’ to deliver aid to besieged areas in ... Middle East
U.N. says it hopes to launch Syria peace talks on Jan. 25The U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, hopes to convene talks ... Middle East
Syria ready to take part in Geneva peace talksSyrian Foreign Minister said Syria is ready to take part in peace talks and hopes ... Middle East