New round of negotiations to strengthen ceasefire set to begin

The plenary session, to include representatives of Syria’s ruling regime and opposition forces.

Syria Crisis

The plenary session, to include representatives of Syria’s ruling regime and opposition forces, which have been battling in a civil war already in its sixth year, was set to commence in the mid-afternoon local time, Kazakh state media reported.

Representatives of the warring sides were supposed to sit at the same table for the discussions, state news agency Kazinform reported.

The talks have been brokered by Russia and Iran, major allies of Syria’s ruling regime, and Turkey, a supporter of certain Syrian opposition forces.

Russia, Iran and Turkey have been attempting to serve as military guarantors of the fragile ceasefire, in force since late December.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met in Moscow to prepare for parallel talks about the Syrian peace process, scheduled to start next Thursday in Geneva.

Lavrov began the meeting by expressing support for the UN’s efforts to promote peace in Syria, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry transcript.

He said he hoped such efforts would stimulate “genuine negotiations among all Syrians, including the government and the whole spectrum of opposition forces.”

The broad ceasefire does not include UN-designated terrorist groups, such as Islamic State, which regional powers, including Turkey and Russia, continue to fight.

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