RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
Talks aimed at ending the war in Syria have started in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana without the opposition, leaving little hope for a breakthrough.
Delegates from the three countries sponsoring the talks – Russia, Turkey, and Iran – were present at the talks on March 14.
Syrian opposition groups on March 13 said they would not attend the talks, accusing the Syrian government and its backer Russia of failing to adhere to a cease-fire brokered in December.
Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian government envoy, said the absence of the opposition showed that Turkey was breaking its commitments. Ankara supports some Sunni Arab rebel factions seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's government.
Reacting to the opposition’s refusal to attend the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the peace process was "hugely complex.”
Two previous rounds of talks in Astana ended without a breakthrough.
The 6-year-old war in Syria has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced millions more.
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