Syria says it will 'never accept' 2 rebel groups barred from peace talks

GENEVA -- President Bashar Assad's government will "never accept" the removal of two militant groups from a list of terrorist organizations barred from peace talks, a Syrian official said, while an opposition figure called on the international community on Sunday to stop Russia's "crimes in Syria.

See Full Article

"

Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam, two Islamic groups fighting to overthrow Assad, agreed to take part in U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva. The ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham is not part of the team sent to Geneva, but the delegation has named Army of Islam official Mohammed Alloush as its chief negotiator.

A U.N. Security Council resolution adopted last month tasked Jordan with compiling an agreed list of terrorist organizations that would be excluded from the talks. Work on the list is still underway.

Assad's government has long referred to all those fighting to overthrow him as terrorists, but has agreed to negotiations with some armed groups in the latest talks. Virtually all parties agree that the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front be excluded.

The two sides are divided over Ahrar al-Sham and the Army of Islam, which the Syrian government and its close ally Russia view as extremists. The mainstream opposition views both groups as fellow rebels, despite their ideological differences.

Syrian Information Minister Omar al-Zoubi said on state TV late Saturday that the government would "never accept" the two groups being removed from the list.

"We will neither sit down directly with terrorists, nor have dialogue with them," he said.

The meetings in Geneva, billed as multiparty talks, are part of a process outlined in last month's U.N. resolution that envisions an 18-month timetable for a political transition in Syria, including the drafting of a new constitution and elections.

In Geneva, a delegation of the main opposition group was scheduled to meet with U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, who began the peace talks on Friday with a meeting with the Syrian government's delegation, opposition spokesman Salem al-Mislet told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The opposition's delegation says it will not take part in the indirect talks until its demands are met, including lifting the siege imposed on rebel-held areas and an end to Russian and Syrian bombardment of regions controlled by opposition fighters.

"It's the duty of the responsibility of members of the Security Council to put the pressure on Russia to stop these crimes in Syria," al-Mislet said in English.

"It's enough killing our children, killing civilians. They pretend to fight terrorism. In fact they don't fight terrorism because they bring terrorism there and ISIS is spreading in many areas in Syria more than before because of these Russian strikes," al-Mislet said, using a term to refer to the Islamic State group.

Russia began its air campaign Sept. 30, saying its strikes are meant to weaken IS and other "terrorists" in Syria, but Western officials and Syrian rebels say most of the strikes have focused on central and northern Syria, where IS does not have a strong presence.

Russia has been one of the strongest supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the start of the uprising in 2011.

Also Sunday, two explosions went off in the predominantly Shiite Damascus suburb of Sayyida Zeinab, killing at least 10 people, state TV said. The report said one blast was triggered by a car bomb and the second by a suicide bomber.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group that monitors both sides of the conflict through a network of activists inside Syria, said the blast killed 12 people and wounded about two dozen.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • False killer whale is latest cetacean to die at Vancouver Aquarium

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Aquarium says the false killer whale it rescued off a beach over three years ago has died at the facility. The aquarium says in a statement that Chester's behaviour changed Wednesday and despite intensive veterinary care, he died this morning. Source
  • Senior Ukraine separatist: Rebel chief has resigned

    World News CTV News
    MINSK, Belarus -- A senior separatist official in eastern Ukraine on Friday announced the resignation of thebeleaguered rebel chief in an apparent palace coup, ending a four-day showdown between rivaling factions. Leonid Pasechnik, state security minister of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, said in a statement on Friday evening that the republic's chief Igor Plotnitsky has resigned on health grounds. Source
  • Chester the false killer whale has died, Vancouver Aquarium says

    Canada News CBC News
    Chester the false killer whale, has died, according to the Vancouver Aquarium. "We are deeply saddened to announce his passing this morning," said aquarium president and CEO John Nightingale on Friday. Source
  • 3 UN peacekeepers, Malian soldier killed in jihadist attack

    World News CTV News
    BAMAKO, Mali -- Suspected jihadists attacked a UN peacekeeping position in northern Mali on Friday killing two peacekeepers from Niger and a Malian soldier and injuring 14 peacekeepers and a UN civilian contractor, authorities said. Source
  • Saudi coalition OKs resumption of UN flights to Yemen

    World News CTV News
    GENEVA -- The Saudi-led coalition that has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on war-battered Yemen since Nov. 6 has authorized the resumption of U.N. flights to the Yemeni capital starting Saturday, a U.N. Source
  • Basil Borutski found guilty in 2015 killings

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Basil Borutski, the man accused of killing three women in an hour-long, revenge-fuelled rampage across the Ottawa Valley two years ago, has been found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and one of second-degree murder. Source
  • Borutski guilty in Ottawa Valley murder rampage

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Jurors found Basil Borutski guilty Friday on two counts of first-degree murder and one of second-degree murder in the deaths of three women killed two years ago during an hour-long, revenge-fuelled rampage across the Ottawa Valley. Source
  • Man ordered to pay $41K in fines for starting wildfires in northern Saskatchewan

    Canada News CTV News
    LA RONGE, Sask. -- A man who admitted he started several wildfires in northern Saskatchewan by flicking lit wooden matches into the forest has been fined tens of thousands of dollars. Donald Halkett Jr. Source
  • Calgary man found guilty in death of former girlfriend stabbed 75 times

    Canada News CTV News
    A 33-year-old Calgary man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of his former common-law partner. After approximately eight hours of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict in the trial of Kevin Rubletz on Wednesday night. Source
  • Basil Borutski guilty of murdering 3 women in shocking killing spree

    Canada News CBC News
    Basil Borutski has been found guilty of murdering three of his former partners in a shocking one-day killing spree that's been called one of the worst cases of domestic violence in Canadian history. A jury of six men and five women returned the guilty verdicts on two counts of first-degree and one count of second-degree murder at 2:30 p.m. Source