Syrian opposition forces on Wednesday criticized the United Nations for advocating a "step for step" approach in resolving the grinding conflict, saying it would further embolden an intransigent regime.
Following a tour of Europe, the United States and the Arab states, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, called in December for efforts to try to build trust between warring parties by setting precise and "verifiable" steps.
The call followed the failure of several rounds of U.N.-brokered negotiations in Geneva between the Bashar Assad regime and opposition groups to draft a new constitution.
On Wednesday, the Syrian opposition forces' High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said step for step diplomacy would give "incentives" to a regime that has already demonstrated its rejection of a U.N.-led peace process.
"It will push it toward more intransigence and will impede implementation of international resolutions," it said in a statement.
The response to Pedersen came after Syrian opposition forces met for talks in Qatar in a new bid to revive their decadelong campaign against Assad.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse (AFP) at the conference, Salem al-Meslet, head of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, said that a united opposition would send "an important message to the U.N. envoy."
The last round of U.N.-organized peace talks in October failed to make any progress and Pedersen has highlighted "great mistrust on all sides."
According to the U.N., over 350,000 people have been killed in the over a decadelong war in Syria, which it says is "certainly an undercount." Around 6.6 million Syrians have been forced to leave the country in the last decade.
With major fighting having subsided since 2020, Damascus has made inroads into easing its international isolation, especially with fellow Arab states.
Meanwhile, the opposition forces have seen their influence waning off in recent years, with many of their foreign backers now moving toward normalizing ties with Assad's regime.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Pedersen discussed recent developments in Syria Wednesday.
The two diplomats discussed developments in Syria about the Constitutional Committee process, the minister said on Twitter.
Constitutional Committee meetings play an important role in determining a political solution to end the crisis in Syria.
After the sixth round of meetings last October, Pedersen expressed his "great disappointment" and accused the Assad regime. There is no information on when the next round of meetings will be held.
Turkey supports the opposition against the Assad regime and alone hosts approximately 3.7 million of Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.