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Meeting in Astana Seeks Mechanism to Regulate Truce in Syria

17 February 2017

Several new rounds of talks are due to take place in Geneva and Astana as the Syrian civil war approaches the end of its sixth year.

16 de febrero de 2017, 09:13Astana, Feb 16 (Prensa Latina) Representatives of Russia, Turkey, and Iran, along with heads of armed groups and officials of the Syrian government, are today seeking to reconcile a regime to control the cessation of hostilities and measures to punish offenders. Jihad Makdissi, a representative of the Cairo Group of political opposition, told TASS his group will not participate as part of the HNC delegation.

The regional brokers met separately for talks with regime and rebel delegates on Thursday in the Kazakh capital Astana.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Kazakhstan's foreign minister said the talks would focus on mechanisms to monitor Syria's ceasefire and to hold violators accountable.

Meanwhile, a co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Asya Abdullah, told AFP on February 15 that Syria peace talks set for next week in Geneva would be a failure unless the Kurds were at the table.

"The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to ensure a successful confirmation of arrangements for the convening of intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva".

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In other words, Astana II is just a stepping stone for the upcoming Geneva next week where the HNC is prepared to engage in negotiations over political issues, including the future government of Syria.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, all the main divisions between the two sides remain to be resolved, key among them Assad's fate.

The opposition-run monitoring group says government forces have responded with a relentless barrage of artillery and airstrikes, destroying at least one field hospital in the contested provincial capital.

The talks also involve Syrian government backers Russian Federation and Iran.

Rebel backer Turkey has signalled new flexibility on resolving the Syrian conflict but there is little sign the opposition feels the same way.