Rebel groups say proposed peace talks may be ‘last chance’
and might be the last chance to resolve the crisis in Syria,” said the Coalition of Forces for Peaceful Change.
Earlier in the day, Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said it, too, supports the Geneva talks and intends to attend them this year.
Neither of the groups, however, has much influence over the disparate armed factions fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad. The Syriabased opposition includes officials close to the government, intellectuals and parties that have opposed Mr. Assad’s Baath Party for decades. The exiled group ranges from secular intellectuals to Islamic activists.
In its statement Monday, the exiled coalition said it would attend the Geneva talks only if humanitarian aid is allowed to reach besieged areas and the government releases political prisoners. The group wants any transitional government to exclude Mr. Assad and his close allies — a demand the Syrian government has rejected.
The proposed Geneva conference faces a series of obstacles: The most powerful and best-armed rebel groups aren’t party to the talks, and most fighting units are disorganized bands with little central command or leadership. Even if an agreement is reached in Geneva, it is unclear whether it will be accepted on the ground.
As diplomats try to convene peace talks, the fighting has raged on.
In the latest blow to rebel fighters, government forces took the town of Tel Aran and other positions in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said, a day after they consolidated control of a key military base held by rebels since February.