Astana Talks Resume to the Backdrop of Regional Tensions
Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in the Kazakh capital of Astana on Monday to discuss progress in brokering a settlement for the Syrian conflict, Agence France-Presse reported.
The United Nations envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was also present at talks on Monday and a Syrian rebel delegation is expected to take part in Tuesday’s negotiations.
Monday’s talks are the first time the three guarantors have met since Iran launched rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week, prompting the fiercest Israeli attack on Syria since the start of the war.
It is also the first such meeting since U.S. president Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement.
Although the U.S. had sent a delegation to eight previous rounds of talks in Astana, it did not send observers to the latest negotiations.
“This time round the Americans, unfortunately, have decided not to support our international efforts,” Russian chief negotiator Alexander Lavrentyev told journalists after the first day of talks.
“We regret this and believe the path to political settlement can only be found at the negotiating table, not in efforts and scenarios worked out behind the back of the Syrian government and the international community,” he said
Last Rebel Fighters Set to Leave Besieged Enclave
The last batch of rebel fighters and their families are expected to evacuate a besieged pocket between the cities of Homs and Hama on Tuesday, the state-run SANA news agency reported.
Thousands of rebels and their families had already been bused to Idlib and other opposition-held parts of northern Syria as part of a Russian-brokered evacuation deal in recent days.
On Monday, 59 buses carrying hundreds of fighters and their relatives left the northern countryside of Homs, while another 63 buses left Hama, SANA said.
The complete evacuation of rebels and their families would bring the northern countryside of Homs and the southern countryside of Hama under government control for the first time in years.
Iraq Strikes ISIS Command Centre in Syria
The Iraqi air force carried out a strike on a building used as a command and logistics support center by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria on Monday, Reuters reported.
The building was completely destroyed as a result of the strike ordered by Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
Iraq has carried out a number of strikes in Syria since Abadi said last month that he would take all necessary measures against ISIS if the group threatens the security of Iraq.
- The Wall Street Journal: Tougher Israeli Posture in Syria Tests Russia-Iran Alliance
- The Atlantic: Assad Is Desperate for Soldiers
- The Los Angeles Times: Syrian Forces Battling Assad Seek Unity Through the National Army
- Deutsche Welle: War in Syria Putting Lebanon’s Refugee Community Under Strain
- Medecins Sans Frontieres: Syria: Newly Displaced Syrians Face Multiple Challenges in Idlib and Northern Hama