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Syrian opposition: Russia can significantly influence parties to Syrian conflict

January 23, 2017, 9:57 UTC+3

An opposition delegation member noted that the issue of ensuring the ceasefire regime is the top priority for the opposition at the Astana talks

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Shelling on Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus

Shelling on Wadi Barada, northwest of Damascus

© Step News Agency, via AP

ASTANA, January 23. /TASS/. Russia is capable of significantly affecting the parties to the Syrian conflict as far as respecting the ceasefire is concerned, opposition delegation member Osama Abu Zeid told reporters on Monday.

According to him, Russia knows that it has many opportunities to influence the parties to the conflict.

"Russia’s success as a guarantor country (backing the ceasefire) is based on its capability to combat challenges related to the ceasefire, in particular to the government forces and Iran abiding by the ceasefire," Abu Zeid said.

He also said that the Syrian opposition would focus on the ceasefire issues during the Astana meeting, there were no plans to discuss a political solution yet.

"At any talks, a settlement cannot be discussed if there is no ceasefire," Abu Zeid noted. "The ceasefire is the main factor that can ensure a successful outcome of the talks." "No political talks are possible at the moment, for the ceasefire should be the first issue to be discussed," the opposition member added.

Situation in Wadi Barada

Syria’s opposition at talks in Astana will raise the issue on observing ceasefire in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus that it says is violated by the Iran-controlled Hezbollah, Osama Abu Zaid said.

"Now there is the situation in which this regime is not observed in particular by foreign armed groups controlled by Iran led by Hezbollah in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus," he said. "This is not just a ceasefire violation but an attempt to occupy the territory."

"We shared this information with the countries-guarantors and demanded that they use their leverage," he added.

Zaid said the consultations with Russia and Turkey on Sunday focused on ensuring the ceasefire in Syria. He stressed that the issue of ensuring the ceasefire regime is the top priority for the opposition at the Astana talks and it is early to speak about the political settlement.

The talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on Syria between the government and the armed opposition are held on January 23-24. They also involve the delegations of Russia, Iran, Turkey, the United States and United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. local time (0700GMT).

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