Syria opposition on same tack as U.S. on terrorism, Iran

Posted February 26, 2017

An opposition spokesperson, Ahmed Ramadan, said they would use the talks to put forward a "comprehensive plan" for a political transition, which has so far been rejected by the government.

The attackers stormed two Syrian security offices in Homs, killing dozens with gunfire and explosions, including a senior officer, and prompting airstrikes against the last rebel-held enclave in the western city.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura met rival negotiators for peace talks in Geneva on February 23, but even gathering them at the same negotiation table appeared uncertain as hopes remained low for a breakthrough in the Syrian crisis. "It will not be easy", the UN Special Envoy for Syria said, "but we must apply ourselves to this task".

De Mistura said Russian Federation asked the Syrian government to halt its bombings during the talks.

The Al-Nusra Front terror group, which renamed itself into itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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On Thursday, activists reported heavy clashes across the southern city of Daraa between pro-government forces and opposition factions headed by an al Qaida-linked group.

Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari also said the attacks were a message aimed at the peace talks.

"Every time we had talks there were always been spoilers", de Mistura told reporters. United Nations -designated terrorist groups Islamic State and Fatah al-Sham, the al-Qaida branch in Syria, have been excluded from the Geneva talks.

Damascus stressed that the "moment of truth" has some "to double efforts to unite the worldwide community in its fight against terrorism and punish the countries supporting it". "It would save time and be proof of seriousness instead of negotiating in [separate] rooms", Salem al-Meslet told AFP on Wednesday. We expected Jaafari to be that tough, because of what happened today....

Nasr Hariri, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in Geneva says: "We have a lot of points that we share with this new administration".

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Although Assad's government has controlled most of Homs since 2014, rebels still control its al-Waer district, which warplanes bombed on Saturday, wounding 50, the Observatory said.

For the Syrian opposition there is urgency - this is the fourth round of UN-brokered talks, and violence which has killed more than 310,000 people over the last six years.

The Astana talks ushered in a shaky ceasefire which excludes hard-line jihadist groups such as Islamic State, and fighting continued in various parts of Syria on Thursday.

During the four previous rounds the two sides have refused to engage directly and the United Nations mediator has shuttled between them. But Kurdish leaders have said an independent state is not their aim.

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