Syria opposition to attend Geneva 2

Syrian opposition group will attend internationally sponsored peace talks.

Syria opposition to attend Geneva 2

World Bulletin / News Desk

Syria's main political opposition group in exile agreed on Saturday to attend internationally sponsored peace talks, and said for the first time three rebel fighting forces also wanted to take part.

The agreement by the Syrian National Coalition - and the chance of fighters backing the process - will be a boost for Western supporters of the "Geneva 2" talks seen as the most serious global effort yet to end the near three-year conflict.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was not immediately available to comment on the prospect of rebel militia representatives playing a role at the negotiations to end fighting that killed more than 100,000 people.

National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi told Reuters the Soldiers of the Levant, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Mujahideen Army all wanted "to have some representation within the delegation" at the talks on Wednesday in Montreux.

It was not immediately clear what role they might play.

Rebel brigades had previously rejected Geneva - demanding the removal of Assad before talks. Their support is seen as critical if any deals have any chance of being rolled out.

All three are established forces, through restrictions on journalists in Syria makes it impossible to give independent estimates of their size.

A fourth fighting group, the Islamic Front - thought to be bigger than the other three combined - was still deciding whether to attend, Safi added.

The fractured National Coalition itself has little influence on the ground in Syria.

Major Isam el Rayyes, spokesman of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, confirmed his group was now interested.

"The Syrian Revolutionaries Front and two other major fronts want to be represented at Geneva but we will not send our brigade leaders," he told Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from the other two.

Coalition discussions to appoint a delegation were set to go into the night. Sources said meetings with the Islamic Front were also taking place in Istanbul.

Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2014, 14:43
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