US, Russia set to clash over Syria sanctions

Posted March 02, 2017

The Syrian opposition's delegation to the Geneva peace talks claimed on Monday that they are in possession of evidence about a confidential cooperation between the Assad regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group in Syria.

"We sincerely hope to persuade Russian Federation to stand by the Syrian people", said HNC delegation chief Nasr al-Hariri after his latest talks with UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Sources added that the drafted constitution will not be approved without holding a popular referendum.

Ankara- Russia's deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov threw on Tuesday the ball of the intra-Syrian talks in the camp of United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura after announcing from Geneva that "the fight against terrorism is a priority and should be on the agenda along with other issues, including Resolution 2254".

Russian Federation says it believes that previous talks held in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, helped jump start United Nations-led peace negotiations in Geneva.

"There have been really deep discussions, for the first time", he said.

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The opposition wants to discuss "political transition" because they see it as an end to Assad's autocratic rule.

After meeting with de Mistura, Hamza Monzer said his group wanted to move from "a situation of paralysis to action".

The focus in Geneva would be three political issues - a new constitution, United Nations -supervised elections and accountable governance - based on Security Council resolution 2254.

"The meeting was constructive".

Government forces launched attacks around Qaboun in the days leading up to the current round of peace talks, the fiercest assault there for more than two years, according to the Observatory and a medical worker in the area.

Salem al-Muslet, a spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, quickly responded to Russia's position and said: "The issue of terrorism does not need negotiations, but was used by the regime delegation to lengthen the process of the talks".

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"We got the impression that they just do not have all information that exists on the ground", Gatilov said.

Russian Federation has taken over the diplomatic process surrounding the war in Syria since its air force helped government troops defeat rebels in Aleppo, dealing the opposition its largest loss of the war. "The fight against terrorism is a priority and it should be on the agenda, along with other issues that were suggested that are contained in (UN Security Council) resolution 2254", which set the terms of reference for the UN talks, he said.

However, the violence has continued in the country and the warring sides have traded blame while appearing no closer to actual negotiations.

Al-Jaafari "said that terrorism should not be ignored and should be also on the agenda", said Gatilov.

Russian Federation now has "the possibility to fully engage with the HNC and consider it a real partner and to go with us into political transition in Syria", she said.

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