Syria’s main opposition join the talks

A delegation from Syria’s main opposition group arrived in Geneva on Saturday to join U.N.-mediated peace talks, demanding President Bashar al-Assad’s government be made to comply with a U.N. resolution on humanitarian aid and human rights. “We are keen to make this negotiation a success,” opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat told reporters as the delegation arrived from Riyadh, ending weeks of uncertainty about whether they would come and the talks would happen. The 17-strong team from the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), including political and militant opponents of Assad in the country’s 5-year-old civil war, is expected to have a first meeting with the U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura on Sunday, setting up the first peace talks in two years. Muslat said the HNC insisted on implementation of a U.N. resolution demanding all sides allow aid access, release detainees, end sieges and stop targeting civilian areas. That was not a precondition for talks, he said, but it was the duty of the Security Council members who agreed the resolution last month, including Syria’s chief ally Russia, which is supporting Assad’s forces with a bombing campaign.

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