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    15-Mar-2017

Syrian Rebels Deny They'll Attend AstanaTalks

 

AFP

 

An official from one of Syria's rebel factions has denied reports that rebels will send representatives to the present round of talks with the Syrian government underway in Astana, Kazakhstan.
 
Mamoun Haj Mousa, from the Suqour al-Sham Brigade, says there are no plans for factions to attend the talks — contrary to reports by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry.
 
Another opposition official, Yahya al-Aridi, said of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announcement: "Let them say what they wish."
 
The Astana talks, brokered by Russia and Turkey, are centered on reaching a cease-fire in Syria and getting humanitarian relief to millions of suffering civilians. They run parallel to the U.N.-mediated political talks in Geneva aimed at ending Syria's civil war.
 
Rebels announced earlier this week they would not attend Astana because of repeated cease-fire violations by the government.
 
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9:10 a.m.
 
Kazakhstan says peace talks in the capital, Astana, over ending the fighting in Syria have been extended and will be attended by representatives of Syrian rebel forces.
 
"We expect the arrival of representatives from the Northern and Southern fronts of the armed Syrian opposition," Foreign Ministry spokesman Onuar Zhainakov said Wednesday, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.
 
Syrian rebels had previously boycotted this third summit in Astana, citing the government's continued bombardment of opposition-held areas in Homs and Damascus.
 
A government delegation led by Syria's U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, began meetings Tuesday with Russian officials in Astana.
 
Talks in Astana are running parallel to political talks in Geneva between the government and the opposition. The Astana talks are centered on cease-fire and humanitarian efforts, but have brought few results.
 
 

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