The Kremlin has said that Russia unequivocally backs the continuation of Syrian peace talks in Geneva.
It follows the announcement by the UN’s special envoy Staffan de Mistura that the main opposition group was postponing its participation following intensified fighting in Aleppo.
Opposition officials say the move is indefinite and depends on events on the ground – and on altering “the path of negotiations”.
“There is no date, the date is… the implementation of matters on the ground, and likewise the correction of the path of negotiations. All the while that does not happen, the time period will remain open,” George Sabra told Lebanon’s Orient TV.
The opposition’s stance was further outlined by a member of its delegation in Geneva, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Ahmed Kamel, who told euronews:
“The goal is not to negotiate but to succeed in achieving our objectives. At the beginning we were very satisfied with the cessation of hostilities, but this cessation became very fragile because of the violations committed by the regime, violations which led to the collapse of the truce. The regime does not only want to gain time, it wants to give a new definition and principles to the political transition that no-one accepts.”
On Monday another senior opposition negotiator representing major rebel group Jaish al Islam said there was “no way” the opposition could resume formal talks amid a military escalation and deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The opposition has rejected an idea backed by Damascus for what it calls an expanded national government, underlining the bleak prospects for renewal of talks in Geneva.
The Syrian government’s chief negotiator, Bashar Ja’afari, has reiterated that President al-Assad’s future is not up for discussion.
“In Geneva we have one mandate only, to arrive at an expanded national government,” Ja’afari told Lebanese TV station al Mayadeen.