Syrian Negotiations Committee's boycott of Sochi Congress not to affect forum

Syrian Negotiations Committee's boycott of Sochi Congress not to affect forum

Kerry Wise
January 27, 2018

The main Syrian opposition group says it will not attend a peace conference to be held in Russian Federation next week.

Sources pointed out that the Syrian regime reduced its representation at Sochi talks, in a move that may be interpreted as "overthrowing" the conference from the ground up.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, speaking to reporters early Saturday, admitted there had been a disheartening lack of progress up until now in finding a solution for the Syrian war.

The talks are being held just days ahead of a "Syrian National Dialogue Congress" which is slated to be held in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29 and 30.

Spokesman St├ęphane Dujarric said the United Nations chief, who is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia attending the African Union Summit, was fully briefed by Mistura, who himself just wrapped up two days of UN- facilitated talks with Syrian Government and opposition delegations in Vienna.

The United Nations is conducting its own round of peace talks aimed at finding a political solution to the almost seven-year civil war in Syria. "The conference will be attended by about 1,600 participants who will reflect the various components of Syrian society", he added.

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The main item on the agenda in Sochi would be the creation of a commission to draft a new constitution for Syria, a Russian official said.

Government forces have mounted offensives against two remaining rebel pockets, Idlib in the northwest and eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

"All of them have participated in the bloodshed of the Syrian people", he said of the five nations, blasting the United States as the country "that created ISIS", and adding that Saudi Arabia was anything but a "beacon of freedom in the east".

At the last round in December, the Syrian government delegation objected to the opposition's tough line on the future of Assad, and those talks achieved nothing.

Russia, along with Iran, has given Assad's government crucial support throughout the war, while Turkey and the United States support different rebel groups.

More than 340,000 people have died in the war, millions have fled their homes and the fighting has left the country in ruins.