Fresh Syrian peace talks begin

Fresh Syrian peace talks begin

Syrian peace talks led by Russia, Iran and Turkey kick off in Kazakhstan this week. The Astana talks, which begin

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Syrian peace talks led by Russia, Iran and Turkey kick off in Kazakhstan this week. The Astana talks, which begin on Monday, will be the 23rd attempt by regional and world powers to forge peace between Syria’s warring factions.

Bashar al-Assad believes the talks will lead to local “reconciliation” deals between rebel groups and has committed to considering “everything”. However, rebels – including the influential Free Syrian Army – say they’ll only discuss reinforcing last month’s ceasefire deal.

Worryingly, leaders of the powerful Islamist coalition Ahrar al-Sham won’t travel to Astana, dampening expectations of a coherent deal. The group accuses Russia and the Syrian government of breaking the December ceasefire deal during the offensive to recapture Aleppo.

While talks may result in the implementation of a more robust ceasefire, a comprehensive political solution remains unlikely in the short-term. Regardless, Assad’s optimistic words suggest a more extensive deal might be closer than most think; the fact that he is talking to opposition leaders is a positive first step.