Syria rebels halt talks on negotiations over truce ‘violations’
AFP photoA dozen Syrian rebel factions have suspended talks on new peace negotiations in the Kazakh capital of Astana, accusing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of violating a four-day-old cease-fire with attacks near Damascus that continued on Jan. 3.
The decision threatens the process sponsored by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey, which began with a truce and is meant to lead to negotiations in Astana this month.
“As these violations are continuing, the rebel factions announce... the freezing of all discussion linked to the Astana negotiations,” the Syrian opposition groups said, according to AFP.
The rebels said they “respected the cease-fire across the whole of Syria... but the regime and its allies have not stopped shooting and have launched major and frequent violations, notably in the [rebel] regions of Wadi Barada and Eastern Ghouta,” near Damascus.
“If things don’t return to how they were before, the accord will be considered null and void,” the statement added.
The cease-fire has brought quiet to large parts of the country but has been undermined by sporadic violence, particularly fighting in the Wadi Barada region north of Damascus.
The area is the main water source for the capital.
The suspension decision was signed by a dozen groups, including the Army of Islam, Faylaq al-Sham, and the Sultan Murad Brigade, which is close to Turkey.
The fighting in Wadi Barada continued on Jan. 3, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.