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Idlib Truce Dominates Astana Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Participants of Syria peace talks attend a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

Moscow, Beirut- The Syrian regime and opposition delegations held on Thursday bilateral meetings in Astana with representatives of the de-escalation zones sponsors and United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

The sixth round of talks is expected to lead to an agreement on a safe zone in rebel-held Idlib province that is located in northern Syria.

Turkey will present on Friday its proposal on the de-escalation zone in Idlib, opposition sources said. Yasser Farhan, head of legal committee in the delegation, told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are still disagreements between the opposition on one side and the regime and backers on the other side.

He reiterated the opposition’s request in implementing a ceasefire in all regions, releasing detainees and preparing adequate conditions for the success of the Geneva negotiations.

Reliable sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that differences mainly lie on the issue of detainees and the force that will be sent to police the zone covering Idlib. The opposition rejects the participation of Turkey, Russia and Iran in the force, especially Tehran, which it sees as a main party in the crimes committed in Syria.

The opposition met on Thursday David Satterfield, the US acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and representatives of France, UK, Turkey as well as de Mistura and his team.

Participating sources stated that Washington’s representative affirmed that the Syrian regime can’t achieve victory unless provided with an international cover, which is unlikely to happen. Representatives of France and UK also expressed their rejection to any role for Assad in the future of Syria.

Russia’s Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak hoped that the Astana meeting be conclusive on the establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria.