All Syrian opposition factions agree to attend Astana talks
Al-Jazeera – Some armed Syrian opposition groups have decided to attend peace talks with the government next week in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, according to rebel officials.
The discussions, scheduled for January 23, intend to build on a nationwide ceasefire that has largely held despite escalating violence across several battlefronts in recent days.
Mohammad Alloush, a leading figure in the Jaish al-Islam group, said on Monday he would head the rebel delegation to the meeting.
He said the rebels were going to the talks to “neutralise the criminal role” of Iran in Syria’s conflict.
“All the rebel groups are going [to Astana]. Everyone has agreed,” Alloush told AFP news agency.
“Astana is a process to end the bloodletting by the regime and its allies. We want to end this series of crimes.”
The rebel factions’ decision to send a delegation to the Astana talks came after five days of negotiations in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.
The High Negotiations Committee, Syria’s main opposition bloc, had also said previously that it would extend its support to an anti-government military delegation attending the talks.
But Shaam Network, an opposition news website, reported on Monday that a number of other rebel groups, including Ahrar al-Sham, one of the main fighting forces on the ground, had decided to stay away from the upcoming talks.
“At this point in time, six years into this war, the different brigades still cannot speak with one voice when it comes to Syria,” Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from the Nizip refugee camp in Turkey, said.
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