The Bashar Assad regime and the Syrian opposition have confirmed their attendance at peace talks set to resume in Geneva this week, the United Nations said yesterday, despite renewed fighting around Damascus.
"All invitees who had already attended the previous round of talks in February 2017 have confirmed their participation", U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci told reporters. She said U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura was currently visiting key powers shaping the conflict - including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Turkey - before returning to Geneva to lead the talks.
As de Mistura "completes these consultations, Deputy Special Envoy Ramzy [Ezzeldin Ramzy] will engage the parties bilaterally on March 23, in Geneva to prepare the round ahead," Vellucci said.
The participation of all opposition groups could bolster the UN peace process, after some opposition camps refused to attend separate negotiations in Kazakhstan last week to protest violations of a shaky cease-fire by the Bashar Assad regime.
The parallel series of talks in Astana is aimed at bolstering the truce, in view of supporting the U.N. negotiations. Damascus has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent days, with the Syrian opposition making large incursions into the east of the Syrian capital. The Assad regime has responded with airstrikes on opposition positions.
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