Russia, Iran and Turkey seek peace in Syria, but the anti-Assad front is still divided

The three countries are launching an "inclusive, free, fair and transparent" political process to put an end to "civil war". Putin stresses that they will need "concessions" from all, including Syrian President Assad. In Riyadh deep divisions between rebel groups emerge, unable to find a common voice. 

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - International diplomacy is moving on several fronts in an attempt to put an end to the Syrian conflict, which has resulted in 400,000 deaths and millions of displaced persons in six years, and to initiate a political process to rebuild the country. Yesterday in Sochi, a tourist resort on the Black Sea, Russian homeowner Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Hassan Rouhani to re-launch the peace process. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, a rally of various Syrian rebel groups has been underway in an attempt to form a united front in view of the next peace talks in Geneva.

Opening the meeting, Putin pointed out that "the militants in Syria have undergone a decisive blow" and today more than ever there is "the real possibility of writing the word end to the civil war." The leader of the Kremlin therefore added that to reach any possible political agreement "concessions" will have to be made by all, including the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (allied to the Russians) who met Putin in the past few days in a visit surprise.

At the end of the direct talks Putin and Assad agreed on the need for constitutional reforms and new elections under the aegis of the United Nations.

In a joint memo, the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey (ally of anti-Assad rebels) have stressed the need to release all the hostages and prisoners of both sides in the battle. Added to this is the search for those missing and the creation of conditions for a long term ceasefire as well as the beginning of a political process that is "inclusive, free, fair and transparent".

In a note, the Syrian Government welcomed the agreement reached, aimed at the organization of a "congress" of peace bringing Damascus and opposition groups to the same table. A meeting that can bring together "representatives of different political parties, internal and external oppositions" to discuss the "parameters of the future state" in respect of national "sovereignty" and territorial "independence and integrity".

However, if consensus on the talks comes from the government front, talks and divisions are still emerging from opposition groups in Riyadh. The Saudi capital is hosting three days of meetings, which is also being attended by the special UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

The goal of the Riyadh Summit is to form a united front called to negotiate with the Syrian government during the next round of peace talks under the auspices of the UN, scheduled for Geneva (Switzerland) on 28 November. However, the meeting of Riyadh has highlighted a multitude of positions within the opposition galaxy, represented by some thirty groups. Unresolved issues include conflicting views on Assad's future, the length of the transition period and the rewriting of a new constitution, aimed at - as a last step - new elections.