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Syrian Opposition Factions Agree to Discuss Landmines, Detainees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Participants of Syria peace talks attend a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

Beirut – Syrian opposition is setting the final touches on the documents it received from Russia during the Astana talks. Meanwhile, the opposition factions are yet to determine whether they will participate in the fourth round of talks during the next month in Kazakhstan. The participation will be determined based on development especially after US became involved in the Syrian crisis.

At the times sources at the opposition are speaking of a meeting in Turkey with the presence of Russia and some factions in preparation of the Astana talks, leadership sources denied the meeting.

Leadership sources stressed that currently they are dealing with the cases of detainees and landmines after the military opposition had rejected both documents of the constitution committee. The factions are convinced that the political issue should be discussed during the Geneva talks and that entitled “managing cease fire areas” which brings back the suggestions of “restoring order.”

Asharq Al-Awsat obtained a copy of the opposition’s notes on the documents, while informed sources at the factions said it refuses the participation of the regime and Iran. They added that it is crucial to handle this case as per the humanitarian laws and international resolutions.

The sources believe that it is hard to boycott Astana talks after Russia became a key player in the Syrian crisis and a solution can’t be reached without it. In addition, terrorism and cease fire had been referred from Geneva talks to the Kazakhstan talks which made it more legitimate and guarantee its continuity. The sources confirmed that if Moscow remained on its policy, then they will demand that both files be returned to Geneva.

Sources at the national coalition told Asharq Al-Awsat that the factions are in disagreement whether to participate in Astana talks or not. Some parties believe Russia doesn’t honor its promises and isn’t doing its duties especially concerning the cease fire, while other parties think that any boycott of the efforts or political negotiations can reflect negatively on the opposition.

An informed resource at the “Free Army” said there is no disagreement and all parties are unified. He confirmed that the negotiations are continuing and the decision will be taken depending on the developments before the convention is due next month.

Legal advisor at the coalition Hisham Mrowwe believes that the decision to participate in Astana is linked to several factors, mainly the involvement of US in the Syrian crisis.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Mrowwe wondered whether it would be beneficial to head to the negotiation sponsored by Russia which supports the regime. He didn’t rule out the possibility that the factions could take the decision to boycott the Astana talks especially that the opposition can now pressure Russia into executing its previous promises of comprehensive cease fire, release of detainees, and sending humanitarian aids to besieged areas.

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that his country is determined to participate in the Astana talks. He considers that both Russia and Turkey are capable of solving the problems of the region.

“Ankara seeks to strengthen cooperation with Moscow in the fight against terrorism,” Cavusoglu said, adding that the Russian and Turkish experts started holding meeting on a more frequent basis.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and his British counterpart Boris Johnson stated there are new efforts and ongoing talks with US to confirm a real and comprehensive ceasefire.

Head of Syrian opposition delegation, Naser al-Hariri said on Sunday that fighting terrorism can’t be done without eliminating Bashar al-Assad.