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The New Arab

Syria rebels announce delegates for UN-backed Geneva talks

A boy waves the pre-Baath flag adopted by key factions of the Syrian rebellion [AFP]

Date of publication: 12 February, 2017

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The mainstream faction of the Syrian opposition have announced their delegates for the next round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva taking place later this month.

The mainstream faction of the Syrian opposition have announced their delegates for the next round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva taking place later this month.

The High Negotiations Committee [HNC] of the Syrian opposition said following meetings in Riyadh that it had chosen its 20-member delegation for the talks.

"Nasr al-Hariri has been selected to head the negotiations delegation, Alice Mofarrej as deputy head and Mohammad Sabra as chief negotiator," the HNC said in a statement obtained by The New Arab.  

The main opposition umbrella group called on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end ceasefire violations, accusing it of taking advantage of time in between talks to carry out air raids on rebel groups.  

"The aim of the talks is to bring about a political transition backed by the UN," it said, adding that all foreign forces and militias allied to the regime must leave Syria.

The HNC took part in peace talks last year, but was not invited to the Kazakh capital Astana, where indirect talks between regime and rebel delegates were held last month.

Moscow and Ankara brokered a shaky nationwide ceasefire in December between the Syrian government and rebel groups.

The HNC took part in peace talks last year, but was not invited to the Kazakh capital Astana, where indirect talks between regime and rebel delegates were held last month.

Kazakhstan's foreign ministry announced on Saturday that Syrian government officials and rebels were being invited to a second round of peace talks in Astana.

A Syrian rebel source, however, denied that opposition groups received an invitation to attend peace talks being held next week.

"If we do receive an invitation we will study it at that time," the source told The New Arab on Saturday.

The next round of Astana talks will discuss observance of the ceasefire and stabilisation measures for specific areas and other "practical steps" ahead of the talks in Geneva, Kazakhstan said.

The Geneva talks are aimed at ending the nearly six-year war in Syria.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria. 

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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