Government, opposition say they each will attend talks
DAMASCUS | Syria’s government and the head of the main Western-backed opposition coalition both confirmed Wednesday that they would participate in a U.N.-sponsored peace conference.
But the two sides laid out starkly different visions of what talks would bring: the opposition sees a transitional government emerging, while the government insists it is not going to the conference to hand over power.
The United Nations on Monday announced that the long-delayed peace talks will begin Jan. 22 in Geneva.
The full list of participants also has not been decided. The Syrian National Coalition, for example, has said it rejects Iran’s participation in the conference, unless it withdraws forces fighting on Assad’s behalf.
Demonstrators appeared to number in the tens of thousands Wednesday — far less than the 100,000-plus mustered Sunday. The numbers indicate they are unlikely to topple the government without more popular support.