Beirut, Damascus – The sixth round of Syrian peace talks kicks off in Geneva on Tuesday in the absence of a clear and specific agenda, according to an invitation received by UN Special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.
During the four-day talks, the delegation of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is expected to emphasize the political transition and humanitarian issues, said HNC member Fouad Aliko.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday: “We have not yet received any agenda for the meeting. But, we will work hard to reach positive outcomes, particularly that this time, the talks will only last four days.”
Aliko said the Syrian regime was trying to downgrade the importance of the Geneva peace talks, something the opposition refuses. “We are very much attached to those talks, which aim for a political transition,” he said.
At the same time, Free Syrian Army Colonel Fateh Hassoun told Asharq Al-Awsat it was important to all Syrians that Articles 12, 13 and 14 of UN Resolution 2254 be implemented.
“This resolution should not be negotiable, but binding for the regime, which is still refusing to implement it. Therefore, it would be a big mistake if we accept to change the items of this resolution, which carries humanitarian measures, into negotiable items.”
Hassoun did not rule out the presence of a race between the Geneva and Astana talks, but said that such a race was rather on reaching “no results.”
“The Russians are trying to show that the Astana talks are more efficient than the Geneva ones in the absence of a US role in Astana,” he said.
In a separate development, more than 2,000 people, including 800 opposition fighters, have departed al-Qaboun district, northeastern Damascus, towards Idlib in the north of Syria.
The move paves the way for the Syrian regime and its allies to completely control the area, after spending the last two months shelling it with airstrikes and tanks, and transforming it into rubble.