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Syrian opposition will not attend Russian peace conference

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Syrian opposition will not attend Russian peace conference

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The Syrian opposition will not attend a peace conference Russia is hosting in Sochi next week, a spokesman said on Saturday, dismissing the meeting as an attempt by the Syrian government’s close ally to “sideline” the current United Nations peace process.

Ahead of the planned conference in Sochi, Yahya Al-Aridi said:''We listened to many guarantees concerning commitment, but none of them were delivered somehow and we are tired of that, we need real involvement, we need real commitment.''

The refusal by the opposition to take part in the peace conference comes amid hopes that a ceasefire could soon be agreed in eastern Ghouta. Russia is said to be pushing for a halt to the hostilities in the besieged enclave to allow vital aid to get in.

Described by the United Nations as an"epicentre of suffering", the fate of eastern Ghouta remains a major cause of international concern. The UN says months of heavy fighting in the rebel held enclave near Damascus has led to an acute shortage of food and medicine and the worst malnutrition seen in the Syrian civil war.

Meanwhile, Turkey has vowed to expand its operation against Kurdish forces inside Syria.

Despite several countries voicing alarm, including the US, UK and France, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday the offensive would not stop until those he considers "terrorists" are cleared.