Syria peace talks in Astana set for January 23

Syrian official says agreement reached to fix damaged Damascus water source in Wadi Barada

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Talks on Syria’s political future will take place in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on January 23, a source in the Russian foreign ministry confirmed to AFP on Wednesday.

“At this time there is no indication that the meeting will be postponed. The date of January 23 is set,” the source said of the negotiations to be hosted by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and rebel groups.

Russia and Turkey last month brokered a ceasefire in the ravaged country which was backed by the opposing sides in the protracted war but was done without the involvement of Washington, a negotiator in previous ceasefires.

The truce went into effect on December 30 and has brought calm to much of Syria though fighting continued in some places like the outskirts of Damascus amid disagreements over locations of militants groups which are not part of the ceasefire.

The diplomatic source said Wednesday that current preparations for the peace talks involve compiling a list of participants.

Some groups have already expressed concern over whether the meeting will be fully representative, with the Syrian Kurds, crucial Western allies in the Syrian war but despised by Turkey, on Tuesday saying they were not invited.

The governor of Syria's Damascus Countryside province said on Wednesday the government had agreed with rebels in the Wadi Barada area for technicians to enter a damaged spring facility that supplies water to the capital, state television reported.

The spring was knocked out of service in late December, reducing water supplies to the 70 percent of inhabitants of Damascus and surrounding areas that it serves.

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