Syrian opposition groups to attend UN talks

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), comprised of Syrian opposition groups, stated March 11 that they will attend peace discussions with the Damascus government facilitated by the UN that will begin next week. The HNC seeks a transitional government with full executive powers, and no role for President Bashar al-Assad  or his associates. These peace negotiations will likely discuss possible federal division of Syria. Last month the UN Security Council last month approved the Syria ceasefire plan, which has been successful so far. These peace talks will follow the first round of negotiations that failed in early February during a Russian-backed government offensive.

From Jurist, March 11. Used with permission.

Note: The ceasfire has resulted in a lull in the fighting, but not its cessation. AFP reports that Syrian Kurdish forces have been excluded from the talks, above the protests of Russia. The Kurds were barred from Saudi-hosted meetings in December where rebel leaders hashed out their positions for the talks, while Russia has advocated for the Kurds' inclusion. The new round of talks to open in Geneva next week will be "indirect," with regime and rebel representatives not actually meeting face-to-face.