Syrian opposition doubts U.N. peace talk plan

Mar 03, 2016, 2:17 AM EST
Source: Michal Przedlacki/flickr
Source: Michal Przedlacki/flickr

Syrian rebels said on Wednesday they were under fierce government attack near the Turkish border despite a cessation of hostilities agreement and a representative cast doubt on whether U.N.-backed peace talks would go ahead on March 9 as planned.

Reuters wrote:

The agreement drawn up by the United States and Russia came into effect on Saturday and has slowed but not entirely stopped a conflict that has been going on for almost five years. Both the government and rebels have accused each other of violations. The agreement does not include Islamic State or al Qaeda's Nusra Front, which is widely deployed in opposition areas. The United Nations said on Tuesday a new attempt at peace talks would begin on March 9 in Geneva, urging warring sides to ensure the cessation agreement take hold to allow them to come to the table. But opposition official George Sabra said the date for a resumption of talks remained "hypothetical" as long as the truce did not fulfil humanitarian demands including a release of detainees held by the government. "What is the value of a truce if its overseers - meaning America and Russia - do not push all sides to abide by it?" Sabra told Arabic news channel Arabiya al-Hadath on Wednesday. The White House said it had seen a reduction in air strikes against the opposition and civilians in Syria in recent days but was concerned by some reported tank and artillery attacks.

Fox News reports:

Despite the fragile “cessation of hostilities” over much of Syria, a steady barrage of Russian air strikes is still aimed at moderate and U.S.-supported rebel forces, further complicating desperately strained humanitarian relief efforts and preparing the way for a renewed offensive by the dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad, say experts keeping tabs on the air assault. “The air strikes definitely seek to give regime forces a tactical advantage” says Genevieve Casagrande, an analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, which monitors and confirms the Syrian attacks. “The question is when they intend to make use of it.” The air assault is a strong indication that the Assad regime’s Russian allies do not intend to be deterred or even delayed in their military planning and battlefield preparations by the on-again, off-again peace talks between the regime and the non-radical opposition forces in Syria, which are now slated to start on March 9, two days later than originally planned.