After years of civil war in Syria, peace talks are finally happening. After a meeting last month in Astana, the Capital of Kazakhstan, the peace talks between Syrian rebels and Syrian government forces are continuing on February 15-16. The talks in January were expected to be the first face-to-face negotiations between the government and the rebels since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. However, the rebels refused to meet directly. Many Syrian rebels are refusing to attend the talks in February as well. They say that they will not attend the Russian-backed peace talks because Russia has failed to get the Syrian government to fully comply with the ceasefire agreement.
According to an anonymous rebel official, only a handful of rebels may attend but only if they see progress in the ceasefire in the next two days. Russia has yet to appease any of the rebels’ demands of the ceasefire such as humanitarian aid, or the release of female detainees that the rebels have demanded.
The Syrian government however said it was willing to participate in a prisoner swap with rebel groups that the rebels have demanded be done before doing any negotiation. Russia and Turkey are also seeking to revive diplomacy with one another since the conflict may be coming to a close and they backed opposite sides of the conflict, with Russia backing the government and Turkey backing the rebels. There are also going to be UN-led peace talks in Geneva on February 20 and will discuss observing the ceasefire and stabilization efforts.
Jazeera, Al. “Syria Rebels Cast Doubt on Attending Kazakhstan Talks.” Syria News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 14 Feb. 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/02/syria-rebels-cast-doubt-attending-kazakhstan-talks-170214041206288.html.
Afp, et al. “Syria Rebels, Regime Invited to Talks next Week in Kazakhstan.” The Times of Israel, AFP, 11 Feb. 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/syria-rebels-regime-invited-to-talks-next-week-in-kazakhstan/.