Syria talks to seek ceasefire, excluding ISIL and Nusra
UN envoy postpones Syria peace talks until Friday, saying a push for ceasefire won’t include ISIL or al-Nusra Front.
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has said that peace talks on Syria will push for a nationwide ceasefire for all parties other than the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front armed groups.
De Mistura announced at a press conference in Geneva that peace talks, originally planned to start on Monday, have been rescheduled for Friday and are expected to last for six months.
He said that he expected to send invitations to the talks on Tuesday and that the initial round of discussions was likely to last two to three weeks.
“The discussions are still ongoing and I have been very much aware of what happened in Geneva 2. Therefore we have been careful and extremely thorough in wanting to make sure that when and if we start, we start on the right foot,” De Mistura said on Monday.
He said all parties would be involved in ceasefire efforts, other than the two groups designated as “terrorists” by the UN.
“The condition is that it should be a real ceasefire and not just local,” De Mistura said.
“Suspension of fighting regarding ISIL and al-Nusra is not on the table. However [there are] plenty of other suspensions of fighting that can take place.”
Khaled Khoja, the President of the Syrian National Coalition, said in a press release that they are ready for the talks despite the delay.
International intervention in Syria
“The core of the issue is not related to setting a date for negotiations, but whether there is an international political will to create an appropriate environment for negotiations.
“The moment there is such an environment, we will be ready to engage in negotiations as we have already assembled our delegation negotiators,” Khoja said.
Last week, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups should start by the end of January as planned, but the invitation list has remained a sticking point.
The talks in Geneva will come after a set of meetings in Vienna and New York between the international community and regional players. During those meetings Saudi Arabia was expected to come up with the opposition list to attend the Geneva talks.
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Mohamed Alloush, the leader of the Jaysh al-Islam group, which has been chosen as part of the opposition list, told Al Jazeera there were conditions yet to be applied before any talks could take place.
“There is pressure on us to give up the natural and legitimate rights of the Syrian people. These pressures are represented in pushing our delegation to head to the talks without any clear agenda, plus giving up the goodwill measures mainly addressing the humanitarian situation which has nothing to do with politics.
“Therefore, we cannot tell our people who delegated us how we gave up their rights and headed to Geneva without stopping the air raids, lifting the siege, releasing the prisoners, or sending aid.”
The Syrian conflict has killed at least 250,000 people, according to the UN, and more than half of Syria’s prewar population of 22.4 million has been internally displaced or have fled abroad.