'No hope of breakthrough' at Syria talks, say rebels

'No hope of breakthrough' at Syria talks, say rebels

Syrian opposition's chief negotiator for UN-mediated talks between government and rebel representatives has said he is pessimistic that a breakthrough will happen.
2 min read
27 March, 2017
The two sides of the talks are meeting separately with the UN [Getty]

The Syrian opposition's chief negotiator has said he is pessimistic of a breakthrough in upcoming UN-mediated talks between regime and rebel representatives.

Mohammed Sabra of the High Negotiations Committee [HNC] told The New Arab on Sunday that the issue of governance and especially the removal of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remain top priorities during talks.

"I do not think that we will achieve any significant advances during this round of talks," Sabra said.

"Unfortunately, we see the regime intensifying its military operations on the ground and its aerial bombardment with Russian support. There is no genuine international will to pressure the regime to stop," he said.

Sabra said the regime's current military offensive was an attempt to regain power.

"We are committed to a political transition that will save Syrians, so we will stay in Geneva in order to urge the international community to pressure the regime and its allies," he stressed.

Sabra added that the opposition delegation asked UN mediator Staffan de Mistura on Saturday to respond to questions about his position on a political transition.

Assad's delegation has sought to keep terrorism as the focus of the talks, accusing the HNC of partnering with extremists.

The two sides are meeting separately with the UN.

On Saturday, de Mistura envoy sent an urgent appeal to Russia, Iran and Turkey seeking help to restore a ceasefire, warning that escalating violence was threatening the peace talks.

"Growing violations in recent days are undermining the ceasefire", agreed at separate negotiations in Kazakhstan's capital Astana overseen by the three countries, de Mistura's office said in a statement.

The violence has had "significant negative consequences for the safety of Syrian civilians, humanitarian access and the momentum of the political process" in Geneva, it added.

Four previous rounds have yielded little with the regime emboldened following major military victories in recent months helped partly by strong support from its ally Russia.

Years of diplomatic efforts have failed to end the Syrian conflict, which has killed at least 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against Bashar al-Assad's regime.