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Syria rebels object to terms of peace talks declaration

Rebel negotiators at the talks have objected to the state being defined as "secular" [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 January, 2017

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Syrian rebels attending peace talks have said they have "fundamental objections" to the terms of a final declaration at indirect negotiations in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.
Syrian rebels attending peace talks have said they have "fundamental objections" to the terms of a final declaration at indirect negotiations between opposition and their war-torn country's regime in Kazakhstan's capital Astana.

Rebel negotiators at the talks have objected to the state being defined as "secular" and demanded a transition to a "democratically-elected government that ensures the equality of all people", Ayman Abu Hisham, a member of the rebel delegation, told The New Arab on Tuesday.

"We are against the terms 'reduction to violations' and 'easing the amount of violence'. We demand a declaration of a total end to hostilities, violations and violence," Abu Hisham said.

"The delegation has insisted that the phrase 'armed opposition groups' be changed to 'the revolutionary military delegation'," he added.

The delegation has also objected to regime ally Iran serving as a guarantor to the current ceasefire along with Russia, another backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Abdel Hakim Rahmoun, a member of the rebel delegation, told The New Arab that there would be no deal without an agreement on a total ceasefire, an end to the regime siege of Wadi Barada and forced displacements.

"Syrians will decide the identity of the state after a political transition takes place," the Jaish al-Nasr representative said.

The UN envoy for Syria said on Tuesday that a final declaration was close to being achieved.

The talks, which yielded no apparent breakthrough on Monday's first day, could have been the first face-to-face negotiations between the regime and the armed opposition since Syria's conflict erupted in 2011, but the rebels backed out.

"We are not far from a final declaration," UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said.

"There are very intense discussions because this is not about a paper, this is about a cessation of hostilities which means Syrian lives."

The rebels have insisted the talks focus on bolstering a frail truce brokered by Turkey and Russia last month, while the regime has called for a political solution to the nearly six-year conflict and for rebels to lay down their arms in exchange for an amnesty deal.

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