Opposition agrees to attend first round of Syria talks
The HNC, which represents the Syrian opposition in Geneva, had previously set conditions, including the lifting of sieges by the Syrian regime before it participates in any peace negotiations.
The Syrian opposition will meet on Monday afternoon with the UN envoy at the UN office in Geneva for the first scheduled session of talks.
"Our meeting with Mistura will readdress three main points," the head of the HNC delegation Assad al-Zoabi told The New Arab.
"These are a complete stop to Russian airstrikes, the lifting of sieges imposed by Syrian regime and Hizballah militias and the release of all children and female prisoners," Zoabi said.
Sunday's meeting with Mistura was described as "positive" with the UN special envoy promising that the Syrian opposition's demands will be met, HNC spokesman Salem al-Meslet told The New Arab.
UN Deputy Special Envoy, Ramzy Ramzy also met with representatives of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's regime on Sunday.
The head of the Syrian government delegation accused the Syrian opposition of trying to derail the peace talks with preconditions.
"[We] will not accept any preconditions," Bashar Jaafari told reporters in Geneva on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the HNC has formed an advisory committee of forty Syrian women to accompany the opposition's delegation and coordinate on social and humanitarian matters.
"We want to give a true representation of all Syrian factions and empower women through a participation in the political and decision making process," Nagham al-Ghadri, a member of the advisory committee, told The New Arab.
|Children and women in particular have borne the brunt of this fighting and it is time now to see the end of the fighting and other human rights abuses that have dominated the war
- Ban Ki-moon
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has urged all sides to put the interests of Syrians above everything.
"Children and women in particular have borne the brunt of this fighting and it is time now to see the end of the fighting and other human rights abuses that have dominated the war," he said.
While virtually all parties agree that the Islamic State group and the al-Qaeda-linked, Nusra Front, should be excluded from the talks, the two sides are divided over Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam.
The mainstream opposition views both as fellow rebels, despite their ideological differences, while Syria's government and Russia view them as extremists.
Crimes against humanity continue in Syria
Meanwhile, the UN human rights chief said on Monday that those committing crimes against humanity in Syria's brutal war should not be "let off" under any deal.
"We do have a principled position in the United Nations that no amnesties should be considered for those suspected of having committed crimes against humanity or war crimes," UN rights chief Zeid al-Hussein told reporters in Geneva.
|We do have a principled position in the United Nations that no amnesties should be considered for those suspected of having committed crimes against humanity or war crimes
- UN rights chief Zeid al-Hussein
The urgency to find a solution was brought home on Sunday when multiple explosions killed 71 people near a revered Shia shrine outside the capital Damascus.
Over 260,000 people have died in Syria and at least 11 million have fled their homes since the Syrian civil war started almost five years ago.
An estimated four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries alone, including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
The crisis, described by the UN as the worst humanitarian disaster of our time, has caused untold suffering for Syrian men, women and children.