Syrian rebel group would meet for peace talks

MONDAY, NOV. 11, 2013

BEIRUT – The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group said it intends to join peace talks with the Syrian government, if conditions are met.

After a vote early today in Istanbul, the Syrian National Coalition agreed to attend a proposed peace conference with President Bashar Assad’s government. The U.S. and Russia are trying to convene the talks in Geneva by the end of this year.

But according to a coalition statement, the group said representatives would attend only if the Syrian government allowed the creation of humanitarian corridors to reach besieged areas and if it released detainees.

The opposition group’s vote to attend the Geneva talks came on the second day of ongoing meetings in Istanbul. The coalition statement made clear that the decision did not remove its demand that Assad step down in any transitional government.

The statement on the Geneva talks followed a deal Sunday to ease a blockade on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital, allowing food to reach civilians there for the first time in weeks, activists said.

The Western-backed group had called for goodwill measures from the Assad government. It wasn’t clear whether the deal to ease the blockade on Qudsaya, near the capital, Damascus, was such a gesture.


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