(From AFP)

UN-mediated peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s conflict are scheduled to kick off Friday, but the absence of key opposition members threatens to derail the biggest diplomatic push yet to resolve the nearly five-year-old civil war.

Special UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura
Special UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, which met in Riyadh on Thursday, said the opposition group would not attend the negotiations in Geneva until an agreement is reached on aid entering besieged towns.

The committee was formed in December when the main Syrian political opposition and armed factions came together in the Saudi Arabian capital for an unprecedented bid at unity, after months of Saudi efforts.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, in a video message to the Syrian people on Thursday, said the talks could be their country’s last chance for peace after a civil war that has seen more than 260,000 people killed and forced millions from their homes.

He said that after several stalled peace processes, the Geneva talks “cannot fail”. Read More

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