Syria peace talks take place in Geneva

31 January 2016

Main opposition bloc has decided to join negotiations

Syria’s main opposition group has arrived in Geneva for UN-backed peace talks despite threats of boycotting the meeting in the Swiss capital on 31 January.

A spokesman of the opposition group, which is made up of several different factions, said they stand by their demand for an end to air strikes and blockades before they will negotiate with the Syrian government.

Their delegation is due to meet UN envoy Staffan de Mistura. The Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) also agreed late on Friday night (29 January) that they would come to the talks in Geneva, hours after the Syrian government delegation had already arrived and held preliminary talks with Mistura.

The peace talks will involve delegates from the Syrian government, the main opposition bloc and the HNC. Jihadist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and the Al-Nusra front will not be present at the talks.

The international community is hoping the peace talks will bring some sort of ceasefire. But immediate priorities will be surrounding an agreement regarding the release of prisoners, aid deliveries to the worst-hit areas and the growing threat from Isis.

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