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Syrian HNC Opposition Group Supports Astana Peace Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.N. Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference in Damascus, Syria November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee announced on Saturday that it supported all efforts poured into planned peace talks in Kazakhstan. According to Reuters, the HNC viewed the meeting as a preliminary step for resuming the next round of political negotiations in Geneva.

“The committee stresses its support for the negotiating military delegation … and expresses its hope that this meeting will reinforce the truce,” the Saudi-based HNC said in a statement.

The HNC, Syria’s main political opposition umbrella group, said it considered the Astana meeting a “preliminary step for the next round of political negotiations” in Geneva.

The Syrian regime and rebel groups opposed to Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad began a nationwide ceasefire on Dec. 30 brokered by Moscow and Ankara. But air strikes and clashes, particularly near the Syrian capital Damascus, have tarnished the shaky ceasefire since it began two weeks ago, and the warring sides have accused each other of violations.

The agreement aims to pave the way for new peace talks, which Russia hopes to convene in the Kazakh capital Astana later this month with Turkish and Iranian support.

United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura has said he intends to convene separate peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 8. The U.N.-backed talks have been held intermittently. Russia says the Kazakh talks would complement, rather than compete with, the U.N. talks.