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Russia 'embarrassed' by Syrian regime decision to quit peace talks

Aridi is one of the Syrian opposition's chief negotiators [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 4 December, 2017

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Russia is reportedly angered by a decision by Bashar al-Assad's government to suspend its participation in talks with the Syrian opposition.
Russia has been left red-faced by the Syrian regime's decision to walk out of negotiations, an opposition leader has claimed, as the UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks look doomed to fail once again.

Syrian government delegates flew back to Damascus over the weekend, something that has likely angered Moscow which is looking for a quick end to the six-year war, opposition spokesman Yahya al-Aridi told Reuters.

"I don't think that those who support the regime are happy with such a position being taken by the regime. This is an embarrassment to Russia," Aridi said.

"We understand the Russian position now. They are... in a hurry to find a solution."

Russia has been a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad and helped tip the war in his favour when Moscow intervened with air support in 2015.

In recent months Moscow has ramped up peace efforts through so-called de-escalation zones in Syria, following an agreement between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Following a shake-up of the Syrian opposition leadership, the Syrian National Coalition appear to have softened their stance on Russia's participation in peace talks.

Russia's Syrian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev attended an opposition meeting in Riyadh last week.

Delegates from the Russian-based "Moscow Platform" were also included in the opposition negotiating team much to the dismay of Syrian activists. 

Syrian regime diplomats have said they might still fly back to Geneva for the talks.

"For the time being there has been no final decision. Damascus is still thinking about the feasibility of its participation," the government source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"As soon as a decision is reached, it will be made public through the usual diplomatic channels."

Agencies contributed to this article.

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