Syria peace talks to begin on March 14: government source

 07 Mar 2016 - 18:37

Syria peace talks to begin on March 14: government source
A Syrian man rides his bicycle past the rubble of destroyed buildings on March 7 2016 in the rebel-held town of Douma on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. AFP, Sameer Al-Doumy


Damascus: The Syrian government has been invited to a new round of peace talks with the opposition in Geneva from March 14, a source close to the regime delegation said Monday.

"The delegation received an invitation on Sunday from the United Nations, asking us to take part in negotiations starting March 14 in Geneva," the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source did not specify when the government delegation would arrive in the Swiss city for the latest round of indirect negotiations aimed at ending the nearly five-year conflict.

The negotiations will be the first held since an unprecedented ceasefire took hold on February 27 following an agreement between Russia and the United States.

The UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura had said the new talks would begin from Thursday.

The opposition's position on attending was unclear.

A spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee, the body representing Syria's opposition, said early Monday that the HNC's delegation to the talks would arrive on Friday.

"After consultations, the High Negotiations Committee agreed to go to Geneva. The delegation is expected to arrive on Friday," Riad Naasan Agha, a spokesman for the group, told AFP.

But in a conference call later with reporters, HNC head Riad Hijab said his group would announce its decision later this week.

"The HNC will assess the situation in the coming days and we will take the appropriate decision (on attending)," Hijab said by telephone from Riyadh.

The HNC has said it represents nearly 100 rebel factions that have signed on to the truce for an initial two weeks.

The truce will reach its two-week mark on March 12.

Asked if the HNC would extend its commitment to the ceasefire, Hijab said the body would discuss the situation on the ground with opposition fighters "and based on this, we will make our decision."