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Syrian Opposition Says Truce Breaches May Preclude Peace Talks - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Residents inspect damaged ground after a shell fell in the opposition-held town of Jarjanaz, southern Idlib countryside, Syria March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Residents inspect damaged ground after a shell fell in the opposition-held town of Jarjanaz, southern Idlib countryside, Syria March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Syria’s opposition coordinator Riad Hijab said on Monday that the group would decide by the end of the week whether to attend upcoming peace talks in Geneva and has protested to the United Nations that Russian air strikes have continued regardless of the truce agreed upon.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russia’s air force, Iranian troops and Iraqi militias, have continually breached the temporary cessation of hostilities agreement and used barrel bombs and toxic gas, he told reporters on a conference call.

Syria’s armed forces have always denied using barrel bombs or chemical weapons.

“Just a few minutes before we came on this conference there was a massacre committed by the air forces of the Russians and the regime in Abu Dhuhour,” he said, denoting a settlement in eastern Idlib governorate.
Tens of people had been killed and tens wounded, he said.

The opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) would consult military commanders and other leaders about whether to attend the talks and participating required an encouraging atmosphere, he said.

“It will be before the end of this week, there will be a clear decision about this,” Hijab said through a translator.

Hijab said he had sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to complain about a map of armed groups’ positions, which was published by the Russian Defense Ministry. Hijab said, however, that the map was inaccurate.
“If it is being taken seriously it would represent a clear and flagrant violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement,” he said.

The HNC would send a representative to Geneva in the next few days to present a precise image to a ceasefire taskforce hosted by the United Nations and chaired by the United States and Russia, he said.

The temporary ceasefire excluded operations against ISIS group and al-Nusra Front, which are labeled as terrorist groups by the United Nations.

Russia has said its air strikes are only targeting these groups that are not part of the ceasefire deal. Hijab explained that Nusra’s positions were close to but “not interlinked” with opposition positions.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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