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Syrian Opposition at Geneva Peace Talks: 'We Will Not Walk Away'

Syrian Opposition at Geneva Peace Talks: 'We Will Not Walk Away'

"In fact, it is the most amount of skepticism that I have heard from diplomats involved in this process", he said.

As the Geneva talks between Syria's warring sides continue for a second day on Wednesday, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has proposed forming a team comprising civil society activists and technocrats aimed at creating a new constitution for the war-torn country.

HNC spokesman Salem al-Meslet, speaking to AFP ahead of his delegation's first meeting on Tuesday, said the new accusations demanded a response.

There is ample evidence that the Syrian government has for decades run a vast network of detention and torture facilities and carried out arbitrary forced disappearances, and that such practices have expanded greatly since the uprising broke out in 2011.

De Mistura affirmed that these talks will complement the ones in Astana, and will focus on the "four baskets", which include a transitional government, the drafting of a constitution, the establishment of parliamentary elections and continued coordination in the fight against terrorism, reported the Guardian.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has strengthened his position on the ground, with the rebels reeling from a major setback in the capital Damascus.

The Syrian regime delegation is being headed as usual by United Nations ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari and the HNC will be led again by Nasr al-Hariri and Mohammad Sabra.

The UN is attempting to mediate a partial end to a conflict that has killed more than 300,000 people and made millions of Syria's population homeless or refugees, and devastated the country's political, social and economic infrastructure. Russian military officials said the plan, which was agreed to in Syria talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana on May 4, envisions the establishment of four safe zones that could bring relief for hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and encourage refugees to return.

President Bashar Assad's government has denied the US allegations.

This round will be shorter and more business-like, starting on Tuesday and ending by Saturday, and with less room for rhetoric, de Mistura said.

United Nations officials said Monday that they had reason to believe the current Geneva talks would be more substantive than previous ones.

Mr De Mistura said on Monday he was "encouraged by the increasing engagement, the increasing interest, by the USA administration in finding a de-escalation".

De Mistura's deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, said he recently had a two-hour meeting with the Syrian deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, in Damascus, that led him to believe the Syrian government was prepared to engage in more substantive discussions. "It is null", Assad said in a recent interview with Belarus's ONT channel.

There is meanwhile little hope of a breakthrough, with the HNC continuing to insist on Assad's ousting as part of any political transition - a demand seen by the government as a non-starter. It is on the table of the UN Security Council.


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