11/11/2013, 00.00
SYRIA
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Syrian opposition will participate in Geneva II, but only if Assad gives up power

The Syrian National Coalition announces its presence in Geneva, but calls for a transitional government without Assad and other members of the regime. The openings of the opposition reignite hopes for peace conference later this year.

Damascus ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian National Coalition (SNC ) will participate in the Geneva talks on the condition that Bashar al- Assad is not part of Syria's furture. Opposition leaders also demanded free access of humanitarian agencies into war affected areas and the release of all political prisoners as pre-conditions. The SNC reached an agreement after two days discussions among its members, including some Free Syrian Army leaders . So far, the regime has rejected any precondition set by the rebels, deemed " terrorists" by Bashar al- Assad.

In a statement released last night, SNC press officer Monzer Azbik, stated that "the group calls on President Assad to leave power, and not be part of any transitional government ."

Azbik's declarations come one day after an agreement signed between the elders of the suburb of Qudsaya (Damascus ) to temporarily stop the army checkpoint and allow the distribution of food in the area controlled by the rebels and under siege by over a month.

In recent weeks Jarba Ahmed , leader of the Syrian National Coalition , had already expressed their intention to participate in Geneva, but was criticized by various groups of fighters opposed to compromise with the regime.

The UN, U.S. and Russia have attempted in recent months to convene a meeting in Geneva for the end of November, but were forced to postpone the negotiation session until a later date due to the differences between rebels and opposition.

Lakdhar Brahimi, UN and the Arab League Special Envoy for Syria , said last week that all the countries involved in the talks are " struggling " to organize a summit later this year . On 25 November Brahimi will meet with diplomats from the United States and Russia to create a new plan to push the parties to stop the violence and start a dialogue.

The Syrian civil war started in March 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring.  So far it has claimed more than 100 thousand lives and turned 9 million people into displaced persons or refugees. According to humanitarian agencies over half the population needs humanitarian aid to get through this winter.

 

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