October 24, 2016

Syrian opposition sees dates for peace talks as ‘hypothetical’

People wave Free Syrian Army flags while attending a protest against forces loyal to Syria’s President Assad in the rebel-held town of Dael, in Deraa Governorate, Syria

A senior Syrian opposition official said on Wednesday dates for a resumption of United Nations-backed Syria peace talks remained hypothetical as long as the current truce does not fulfil its humanitarian demands.

A cessation of hostilities agreement came into force early on Saturday and the UN said on Tuesday that a new attempt at peace talks would begin on March 9.

The truce does not include Islamic State or the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and both the government and rebels have accused each other of violating it.

“As long as the truce does not help implement the terms (of the United Nations resolution), all dates for the resumption of negotiations remain hypothetical,” Syrian opposition official George Sabra told Arabic news channel Arabiya al-Hadath.

“What is the value of a truce if its overseers – meaning America and Russia – do not push all sides to abide by it?” he said.

The opposition is pressing for full access to humanitarian aid, government sieges to be lifted, detainees to be released and air strikes to be halted before it takes part in negotiations. These were some of the conditions laid down in a UN Security Council resolution passed in December.

“The stability and success of implementing the truce’s goals will be the main factor for the resumption of negotiations on the date announced by (UN Syria envoy Staffan) De Mistura,” Sabra said.

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