The Syrian opposition’s main political body on Tuesday urged rebel groups to cooperate with “sincere regional efforts” to reach a ceasefire but said it had not been invited to any conference, referring to a meeting in Kazakhstan proposed by Russia. Riad Hijab, general coordinator for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said confidence-building measures were needed to create an atmosphere for political transition talks which should be held in Geneva and sponsored by the United Nations.
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“We support the shifts in positions of some international powers and the positive, sincere efforts that could represent a starting point for realising the Syrian people’s aspirations, by reaching an agreement that brings security and stability,” Hijab said in a written statement distributed to the press. The HNC said it wants to see a truce that covers all of Syria, in line with previous UN resolutions which forbid the use of banned weapons such as barrel bombs and chemical agents. Other resolutions call for all sieges to be lifted, humanitarian aid access, a halt in air strikes and no more forced displacement.
Iran and Russia support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the nearly six-year Syrian conflict. Turkey and the United States support opposition groups. Peace talks in Geneva broke down earlier this year because of a surge in violence. Russia, Iran and Turkey said last week they were ready to help broker a peace deal after holding talks in Moscow where they adopted a declaration setting out principles for an agreement. Arrangements for the talks, which would not include the United States and would be distinct from separate intermittent UN-brokered negotiations, remain hazy. But Moscow has said they would take place in Kazakhstan, a close ally. Hijab said the HNC had not been informed of any official arrangements, but said: “Certainly, defining a clear agenda will help define the positions of the active powers.”