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Syrian opposition outlines concerns over ceasefire plan


Syria

Syrian opposition outlines concerns over ceasefire plan

The main umbrella organisation for Syrian opposition groups says it’s ready for a two-week truce to test the government side’s commitment to the US-Russian ceasefire plan.

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) says it welcomes the plan – but many problems must be addressed before any truce can work.

The ceasefire deal excludes the so-called Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which can still be targeted.

The HNC’s statement obtained by Reuters says it “views a temporary two-week truce as a chance to establish how serious the other side is in committing to the points of the agreement.”

However it objects to Russia being guarantor of the plan alongside the United States, saying Moscow was a direct party to the conflict, and that the plan ignored the role Damascus allies Russia – which backs President al-Assad’s government – and Iran were playing.

“We are sure that Russia will do something, but the problem in this agreement, if they target al-Nusra — we are not defending al-Nusra, we are against al Qaeda, we are against ISIS, Daesh — but maybe they will use that as an excuse to target moderate fighters, to target the Syrian Free Army,” said the HNC’s spokesman Salem al-Meslet, speaking from Riyadh.

Earlier this week both the main opposition and rebel group, and the Syrian government, said they conditionally accepted the ceasefire plan.

It’s due to come into force on Saturday.

However there have been concerns that parties may use the time in the interim to launch attacks and consolidate positions. Earlier this week the opposition accused Russia of stepping up airstrikes since the ceasefire was announced.

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