Syrian opposition refuses to attend Sochi peace congress supported by Russia

  • Dominika Jandová
  • 4.11.2017 21:27

A congress of national dialogue was agreed to be held in the Sochi Black Sea resort under Russian mediation during the seventh round of the Syrian peace talks in Astana which ended on 31 October. A part of the Syrian opposition sees this congress as "disturbing" in relation to the future role of Bashar al-Assad and thus rejected this initiative. Russia is hoping all groups will eventually take part.

The congress should be held on 18 November and, for the first time, Kurdish authorities were also invited, which Turkey is strongly against. According to France, UN-backed peace talks in Geneva are the only correct format, however, such efforts have been unsuccessful so far. According to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the US also perceives Geneva peace talks to be the only possible way of ending the conflict in Syria. The US also rejects Bashar al-Assad having any role in Syria's future government. The Astana talks were also aiming to finish the plan to establish four "de-escalation zones" across eight Syrian provinces.

The Syrian regime's forces announced on Friday 3 November that they gained control over the eastern city of Deir al-Zour previously held by the Islamic State (IS). Deir al-Zour was the last strategic location in eastern Syria where IS members were still present, mainly due to its significant oil fields. Similarly, Iraqi forces were successful in defeating the IS at the last border crossing with Syria in the Euphrates Valley and entered the city of Al-Qaim. As a result of the IS' weakening, both Syrian and Iraqi forces are expecting a shift towrds guerrilla tactics. 

About author: Dominika Jandová


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