Russia backs Syrian rebel participation

2015-10-30 16:35
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Vienna - Moscow is ready to support the Western-backed Free Syrian Army's participation in a political settlement of the multi-sided conflict in Syria, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Friday.

"In general we support their participation as a structure," Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters, according to state news agency TASS.

The announcement came as nearly 20 top diplomats from regional rivals and key powers in the Syrian civil war gathered in Vienna for peace talks aimed at finding a solution to the conflict that began in 2011.

Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose military has been fighting rebel groups such as the Free Syrian Army for more than four years. The addition of the Kurds and Islamic State militants in the conflict has further complicated the prospect of a resolution.

The peace process depends heavily on the fragmented Syrian opposition forming a unified political platform, Bogdanov said.

Current conflict

"The Syrian opposition should understand what it wants, co-ordinate common approaches and form a delegation that will promote these approaches at negotiations with the Syrian government," the deputy minister was quoted as saying.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said earlier on Friday that the peace negotiations in Vienna could offer a "light at the end of the tunnel" in the war.

"The most important aspect of these talks is that they happen and that all countries with influence in the current conflict in Syria are taking part," de Mistura told Austria's APA news agency.

An estimated 250 000 people have been killed in the Syrian war and the violence has driven more than half the country's pre-war population of 22.4 million people from their homes, with almost 4.7 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and Western Europe.

Read more on:    austria  |  us  |  syria conflict  |  russia  |  syria

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