Syria conflict: Rebels agree to attend Astana peace talks

Syria conflict: Rebels agree to attend Astana peace talks January 16, 2017

Syrian rebel groups have confirmed that they will attend peace talks with the government in Kazakhstan next week.

A leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Mohammed Alloush, said he would head the rebel delegation and aim to end the “crimes” of the government and its allies.

The talks in Astana are being organised by Russia and Turkey.

The two countries, which back opposing sides in the civil war, brokered a truce on 30 December that has been threatened by repeated violations.

Air strikes and clashes have been reported on several battlefronts, particularly in the Wadi Barada region north-west of Damascus.

On Sunday, at least nine civilians were killed by government shelling of a rebel-held village there, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The truce excludes the jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, known as al-Nusra Front until it broke off formal ties with al-Qaeda in July.

Rebel factions took the decision to send a delegation led by Mr Alloush to the talks in Astana at a meeting in Turkey on Monday.

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