Time: 9:58 p.m. CEST
The United Nations’ envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura will meet each of the Syrian’s delegations on Monday separately, in what the U.N. calls “proximity talks,” the Guardian reports on Sunday. De Mistura talked with the opposition on Sunday, who insisted on the implementation of a UN Security Council Resolution.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syrian’s head of the government negotiation team and Syria’s UN ambassador said that the opposition was “not serious” about wanting peace. Official Damascus claims that their opponents are “terrorists” and insists that two anti-Assad rebel groups-The Islamist Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam-be barred from talks and labeled along with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, as an al-Qaida Syrian affiliate, the Guardian reported.
On the same issue, the Associated Press reported that Bashar Assad’s government will “never accept” the removal of two militant groups from a list of terrorist organizations barred from peace talks. Both groups, Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam, fighting against Assad, agreed to participate in the U.N. – sponsored peace talks in Geneva.
As the AP says, “the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham is not part of the team sent to Geneva, but Army of Islam sent Mohammed Allousb as its chief negotiator. The U.N. Security Council resolution tasked Jordan with “compiling an agreed list of terrorist organizations, which would be excluded from the talks.” But the list is not closed yet.
Assad’s government agreed on negotiations with some of the armed groups. The AP says, “Virtually all parties agree that the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front be excluded.” But the disagreement exists on two sides divided over Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam, which government in Syria and Russia, view as extremists. The main opposition perceives the groups as fellow rebels, aside the existing ideological difference.
As the process of peace talks starts to unfold, 50 people died and dozens ended injured after coordinated bombings near Shia Muslim shrine in Damascus. As state media in Syria said, a car bomb caused first blast, before two suicide bombers detonated themselves, close to the Sayyida Zeinab mosque in the south of the capital. The blasts, the Guardian writes, “Served as another vicious and bloody reminder of what it as stake in the Geneva talks.”
The peace talks in Geneva are segment of a process described in the last-month agreed U.N. resolution that sets an 18-month timetable for a political transition in Syria, which includes new constitution and elections.
The Secretary of State John Kerry described the talks as “a pivotal phase” in international efforts to stop the violence in Syria. There are number of challenges to overcome and as, the Financial Times names them, “from the future of the Assad clan; to which group should be excluded apart from ISIS and the al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. But, Moscow, says Financial Times, supports Assad regime and it is “busily eliminating all alternatives to it, except ISIS.”