ASTANA (QHA) -

On Monday representatives of the Syrian opposition started talks on the settlement of the Syrian crisis in the Kazakh capital, Astana. Negotiations, as the organizers expect, will for the first time allow sit at the common table with representatives of Assad and his implacable critics. An attempt to do this at the beginning of last year, with the mediation of the United Nations in Geneva failed.

Seven delegations arrived at the talks: the government and the opposition of Syria, representatives of the countries-guarantors of the agreement on a ceasefire on December 29 (Russia, Turkey, Iran, - Ed.), a team of Secretary to Special UN Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, and the US Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol as an observer. The Russian delegation is headed by the Special Representative of the Russian President on the Syrian settlement Aleksandr Lavrentiev, delegation from Iran is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Ansari Jaberi, Turkish delegation – by Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Advisor for the Middle East and Africa Sedat Onal. As Head of the delegation of the Syrian government appears SAR Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari.

Meeting is held in Astana in a closed format. The delegation of the Syrian opposition is headed by one of the "Dzheish al-Islam" leaders Mohammed Allyush. Prier to the armistice at the end of 2016, Russia considered this grouping terrorists and supporters of the "Islamic state."

According to Reuters, the Syrians places at the negotiating table were marked just "Syrian Arab Republic", without separating members of the opposition and the authorities.

The representative of the Syrian opposition Yahya al-Aridi told Reuters that the subject of negotiations will be just a matter of maintaining the fragile truce reached with the mediation of Moscow and Ankara.

“The Syrian regime diverts attention from these issues. If the government believes that our presence in Astana is a surrender, they are mistaken,” he said.

Rebel groups, united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) state that their goal is to put an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad with the assistance of the UN through political dialogue.

The talks in the capital of Kazakhstan were scheduled after the next announcement of a truce in Syria, brokered by Russia. Hostilities in the country officially ceased December 30, 2016. Since then, Syrian authorities and Russian Air Forces strike only groups not adhered to the ceasefire.

A truce was also declared in Syria in February and September 2016. In both cases, after that the fighting between official Damascus and the armed opposition renewed immediately. The last peace talks ended after the Syrian authorities finally took control of Aleppo.

PHOTO: AP

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