Ahead of the Geneva talks expected to start today, the Syrian opposition made it clear Tuesday that the negotiations should be focused on a political transition. The Assad regime and the Syrian opposition will attend another round of talks in Geneva with the aim to reach a political solution and end the decade-long Syrian Civil War.
The opposition quit the last round of talks in protest of the escalating bloodshed, warning last week that cease-fire violations by the Assad regime are once again a major hurdle in the negotiations. "The obstacles are clear and one of them is that there is no advance in consolidating a cease-fire," said Yehya Aridi, an adviser to the main Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC). Speaking about the issue at the presidential complex in Ankara yesterday, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said that efforts to establish a political transition are ongoing: "We see [the Astana and Geneva talks] as two processes that complete with each other.
Talks between the regime and the opposition will continue as part of the Geneva talks," he said. The latest cease-fire agreement reached on Dec. 30 was brokered by opposition supporter Turkey and regime-backer Russia during separate negotiations that also involved Iran in Kazakhstan. While the cease-fire has reduced violence, conflict flared up again this week with significant attacks, including the Assad regime's bombing campaign on rebel-held territory around Damascus. The HNC alleges that Assad is trying to send "a bloody message" prior to the resumption of peace talks. Hopes for a breakthrough remain bleak with the sides still in a deadlock over the fate of Assad and persisting violence on the ground. U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, who moderated three previous rounds of peace talks, which all failed, said he is not "deluded" about the prospects of reaching a deal this time around.
Turkey and Assad's two primary backers Russia and Iran have organized separate negotiations in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana. The advisers of Syria's main opposition and the Assad regime gathered in Astana Thursday for the second round of talks in discussions regarding the continuity of the nationwide cease-fire in Syria. Meanwhile, Turkish diplomatic sources speaking anonymously to Anadolu Agency (AA) ahead of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva said that the "transition of full authority" should be established in accordance with the U.N. resolution. The sources stressed the Syrian people should draft their own Constitution under a new transitional administration, claiming Russia's proposed constitution calls into question the unity of Syria.
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