For more than a month, the United Nations has been preparing for talks aimed at ending the civil war in Syria.

Opposition groups held multiple meetings in Riyadh to decide who would attend the talks. And the international community repeatedly debated the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, all in anticipation of negotiations that were scheduled to begin in January.

Those talks were delayed once but have now begun. But without main members of the opposition.

They're demanding that some prisoners be released, and calling for an end to air strikes and sieges. If these conditions aren't met, the opposition members say, they won't be joining the talks in Geneva.

Representatives of the Syrian government are there, as are some lesser-known members of the opposition and civil society. They're meeting with UN envoy Staffan di Mistura separately.

But without key opposition figures, what can these Syria talks really accomplish?

Presenter: Peter Dobbie


Maram Daoud - Member of the Syrian Democratic Front

Randa Kassis - President & Founder, Movement of the Pluralistic Society

Fatih Erel - UN Correspondent, Andalou Agency

Source: Al Jazeera