11/28/2013, 00.00
SYRIA
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As government and opposition agree to Geneva, a new Jihadist group emerges

A peace conference on Syria will open on 22 January 2014 in Geneva. The Syrian regime will go but not to hand over power. The Syrian National Council will also be there even though it is increasingly ostracised by jihadist groups. Turkey and Iran both want a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

Damascus (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The nuclear agreement between Iran and 5+1 Group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) has had a positive impact on the Syria peace conference, set for next January in Geneva.

Both the Syrian government and the opposition have agreed to participate. In fact,, the Syrian government yesterday confirmed that it would send an official delegation with President Bashar al-Assad following developments from Damascus.

The more relaxed atmosphere is due to the more conciliatory positions taken by Turkey and Iran, which are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict. Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, backs the opposition, whilst Iran through Shia-based Hizbollah funds and supports the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

 "Iran and Turkey have similar standpoints on several issues," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during a joint press conference yesterday with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu who was on a visit to Iran.

Both countries believe "that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis," Zarif noted, adding that he would attend Geneva II if he was invited.

For his part, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu said that, along with Iran, Turkey wants a ceasefire ahead of talks.

The top priority for Syria's official delegation will be "eliminating terrorism," a foreign ministry source said. It surely will not go to Geneva to hand over power.

The Syrian National Council (SNC) will be represented at Geneva as well, SNC leader Ahmad al-Jarba announced yesterday at a press conference in Cairo.

However, the SNC is only a small part of the anti-Assad opposition. Its Free Syrian Army now represents only 20 per cent of the forces fighting the regime. The other 80 per cent includes Islamist groups like Jabat al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Islam and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

The creation on Tuesday of the Islamic Front, a coalition that represents seven major jihadist movements in Syrian territory, is a further blow to the only secular opposition group.

In an online message, the new group said that its goal is to create an "Islamic state" in Syria, blaming the West for betraying the Syrian people.

In its charter, the Islamic Front also said the only way to bring about its objective to bring down Assad was through "military rebellion".

The extremist movement rejects the idea of ​​a secular government since it contradicts Islam, which regulates the affairs of individuals, society and the state.

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