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Syrian opposition holds Russia responsible for failing peace talks

The Syrian opposition has accused the UN of being blackmailed by Russia [AFP]

Date of publication: 23 January, 2016

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A statement issued by the Syrian opposition blames the Assad regime and Russia for any failure in the peace talks and accuses the UN of complicity.
Syrian opposition groups say they will hold the Syrian government and its Russian backers responsible for any failure in the peace talks due to start in Geneva on Monday.

They blamed Assad and Russia's "ongoing crimes" in Syria including the "besiegement and starvation of civilians".

"The Assad regime and her Russian ally is responsible for the failure of the political process due to their continuing war crimes..., and refusal to comply with the humanitarian demands of the Security Council before the start of the negotiations," they said in a statement.

War crimes included the killing, besiegement and starvation of civilians, and the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, schools and border crossings.

Despite affirming their support for the political process, the groups said it was impossible to begin the negotiating process without full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to humanitarian issues.

The statement also said the UN bore responsibility for the crimes against civilians due to its failure to implement security resolutions calling on parties to immediately allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access across Syria, especially to besieged areas, and to stop attacks against civilians.

"We consider the fulfillment of these provisions a basic human right without which it is impossible to begin the negotiating process," the statement said.
The statement also said the UN bore responsibility for the crimes against civilians.

"We fully and categorically reject Russian dictates ... [and] barefaced meddling in the affairs of the opposition delegation," it added.

The opposition added that their refusal to act was allowing Russia to dictate to the UN through "military interference and political backmail".

Those signing the statement include the Syrian National Coalition, the main Western-backed opposition group, as well as 44 rebel groups including the powerful Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam or Army of Islam.

The UN-sponsored peace talks were scheduled to begin Monday in Geneva but may be delayed due to continued divisions over who should represent the opposition at the talks.

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