Opposition absent as Syria ‘peace talks’ start

A rebel fighter looks up from his hiding spot in the rebel-controlled area of Arbeen, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus on January 29, 2016A UN-led push to chart a way out of Syria's tangled civil war got off to a shaky start Friday, with only representatives of Bashar al-Assad's regime attending the first day of supposed peace talks in Switzerland. The main umbrella body representing the myriad opposition and rebel groups in the five-year-old conflict were refusing to take part at the start of what are meant to be six months of intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva. A member of this group, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), told AFP however that a small, low-level team of three spokesmen were en route for Geneva where they might meet with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.


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