Saudi Arabia to bring Syria armed groups to talks

2015-11-21 21:30
Syrians search for the bodies of two girls thought to be under the rubble of a building hit during an airstrike by Syrian government forces in Aleppo, Syria. (Khalil Hamra, AP/File)

Syrians search for the bodies of two girls thought to be under the rubble of a building hit during an airstrike by Syrian government forces in Aleppo, Syria. (Khalil Hamra, AP/File)

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New York - Saudi Arabia will host a meeting in December that will see Syrian armed factions join the political opposition to build a common platform ahead of peace talks, a UN envoy said on Friday.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN's Syria envoy, said in an interview with the al-Hayat newspaper that Riyadh was "very well-placed" to bring together not only political actors but military groups fighting the forces of President Bashar Assad.

"They are the ones who are dying, they are the ones who are fighting," De Mistura said of the armed groups, without naming them.

"Saudi Arabia is very well placed of being able to have a lot of them in Riyadh and they volunteered to do so."

The meeting in Riyadh around December 15 will help build unity in the opposition to enter into talks on ending the nearly five-year war that has left 250 000 dead.

Opposition delegations

"They should have a common platform," said the UN envoy.

"They are going to deal - either directly or through us in different rooms - with a very firm highly-disciplined government position."

Jordan is drawing up a list of opposition delegations that will take part in peace talks which the UN envoy said should be completed by January.

Once an opposition delegation is formed, a ceasefire would go into effect across Syria, except in the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, to shore up the peace process.

The UN Security Council is drafting a resolution that provides for ceasefire monitors.

De Mistura stressed that seizing the momentum for peace was crucial and that the worst-case scenario would be for the Vienna talks to break down.

"My greatest fear is that - the countries that are involved and have an influence and finally are sitting around the table - decide to break the table and go back to their old habit, which means another five years of the same conflict and there will be no more Syria," he said.

"That is the biggest fear that I have."

The Vienna talks have brought together 17 countries including Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia and Iran, in a bid to reach a settlement.

Read more on:    un  |  saudi arabia  |  syria conflict

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