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Syrian Regime Succumbs to Russian Pressure, Accepts Discussing ‘Political Transition’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Flames surge following a reported car bomb explosion at a Syrian pro-regime position in Daraa on February 20, 2017 (AFP Photo/MOHAMAD ABAZEED)

Beirut- Five days after kicking off the fourth round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Russia succeeded on Wednesday in making a political breach by convincing the Syrian regime to accept discussions on a “political transition” in the war-torn country.

Following a meeting with UN chief negotiator Staffan de Mistura in Geneva, Syria’s main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leader Nasr al-Hariri said: “We had a lengthy discussion with de Mistura and his team. The issue of political transition is now the main subject on the table of political discussions currently taking place in Geneva.”

Al-Hariri added: “We learned from de Mistura that pressures exerted by Russia were behind the regime’s acceptance to start discussing issues listed in UN Resolution 2254, including the achievement of a political transition.”

National Coalition spokesman Ahmad Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday that the opposition considers the recent step a “victory” ahead of moving to other practical moves.

The fourth round of talks in Geneva ends on Friday, before resuming again in two weeks.

On Wednesday, the HNC delegation met with Russia’s deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.

Ramadan said both sides discussed the Russian pledges made in Ankara and Astana, in addition to Moscow’s veto in the UN session on Monday, the fragile ceasefire and the continuous Russian and regime shelling in some Syrian areas.

At the battlefield, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that only 20 kilometers separate the Syrian regime forces and their allies from Hasaka and Aleppo provinces. Reaching both governorates would enable the regime to link the self-administrated Kurdish areas together.

Experts speak about the presence of a “fait accompli alliance” between the Syrian regime and Kurdish forces linked to the Democratic Union Party.

Both sides still deny the presence of such an alliance, but admit to cutting off a road used by the Ankara-supported Euphrates Shield forces by preventing them to advance towards the suburbs of east Aleppo.

Official Kurdish sources said the road between the three districts “will open soon.”