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Astana Urges Syrian Parties to Set up Geneva Negotiations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Participants of Syria peace talks attend the meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, on January 23 [Reuters/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov]

Riyadh-Beirut- The Riyadh-based Syria opposition announced the assembly of its delegation to attended the Geneva negotiations. Turkish forces had also reportedly entered the border Syrian city, al-Bab.

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels on Saturday entered the ISIS-held town of al-Bab in northern Syria, as government forces also approached the extremist’s bastion.

“Turkish forces and allied rebels in the Euphrates Shield campaign entered the western edge of the town and took control of a number of areas,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On the other hand, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that it has officially invited each of Syria’s regime and rebel representatives along with U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura to meet in preparation for upcoming Geneva talks.

The foreign ministry highlighted that the field related dispute must be settled in order to pave the way for a political solution.

The opposition’s delegation to Geneva will be composed of 20 members accompanied by a respective 20 advisors.

Mohammad Sabra, a senior HNC member, was named chief negotiator at the talks.

De Mistura announced last month that he would postpone the Geneva talks between Damascus and the opposition from February 8 until February 20, and added that U.N. seeks to give time to implement the agreement reached at the Astana meeting on setting up a ceasefire monitoring mechanism.

If the ceasefire is ensured, this will contribute to the success of the Geneva talks, said De Mistura.

Clashes taken on by Turkey-backed rebels were underway against ISIS militants overrunning al-Bab, which is the terrorist group’s last stronghold in the northern province of Aleppo.

Turkey began an unprecedented campaign inside Syria on August 24, targeting terror group ISIS.

Al-Bab has been under ISIS control since 2014, when the group seized large swathes of territory in Syria and neighboring Iraq, proclaiming its self-styled caliphate.