April 26, 2017

Damascus Shuns Away From Power Transition Issues at Syrian Talks - HNC Head

26 February 2017, 12:59 | Clarence Schmidt

Army intelligence chief killed in deadly Homs attack

Suicide attacks kill 70 in Syria

Syria's main opposition delegation at the fresh round of peace talks in Geneva said Saturday they "will never be the reason for the negotiations to fail".

The fourth round of the intra-Syrian talks began in Geneva on Thursday, marking the first time the Syrian regime and opposition delegations have returned to the Swiss city since talks were suspended last April. "The best gift we can offer to Bashar Assad is our withdrawal from the talks and therefore, give the Iranians an excuse to escalate the military operations", a member of the opposition told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The UN-brokered talks come shortly after the conclusion of the second round of the Syria peace negotiations, facilitated by Russia, Turkey and Iran, in the Kazakh capital of Astana on February 15 and 16. "They failed to control Iran", Hariri said, referring to another key Assad backer.

The army has recaptured the rebel bastion of eastern Aleppo and Washington, once staunchly opposed to Assad, has said it is reassessing every aspect of its Syria policy under President Donald Trump.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 people were killed when the bombers targeted the headquarters of state security and military intelligence in the heavily guarded Ghouta and Mahatta neighborhoods.

"Am I expecting a breakthrough?"

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The talks are taking place with the participation of representatives from the International Syria Support Group, which includes Turkey, the U.S., Russian Federation and Iran.

"We hope to see something achieved here in Geneva 4 because there is no way Syrians will be moving to Geneva 5 with this cost they are paying in Syria", said the HNC spokesman. The attacks were claimed by al-Qaida -linked coalition in Syria.

In a short statement to reporters after more than two hours of discussions with the United Nations envoy, the government's chief negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari said they had discussed only the format for the coming days. "The world has to end these brutalities", said Yahya al-Aridi.

Mr de Mistura has said he does not expect an immediate breakthrough and is hoping neither side will seek to disrupt the new round of talks by provoking the other. Rebels have found themselves dependent on al-Qaida's battle-hardened factions since 2015 to rebuff government advances around the country.

The Syrian government has repeatedly denounced Turkey's troop presence as a violation of Syrian sovereignty and an act of aggression, but the two sides have not faced off.

Grand opening Damascus is represented by Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria's United Nations ambassador, who has been involved in all the talks, beginning with a grand opening in the Swiss city of Montreux in January 2014, attended by dozens of foreign ministers and diplomats.

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