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Syrian opposition agrees to send united delegation to Geneva talks

Update: November, 24/2017 - 11:30

RIYADH  Syria’s disparate opposition groups announced an agreement early Friday to send a united delegation to next week’s UN-brokered peace talks in Geneva, as international diplomatic efforts intensify to end the six-year conflict.

The announcement came on the second day of a Saudi-sponsored meeting in Riyadh, where around 140 opposition figures are gathered to unify their ranks before direct talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on November 28.

Several rounds of talks hosted by the United Nations have failed to bring an end to the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 330,000 people since 2011 and forced millions from their homes.

“We have agreed with the groups here in Riyadh, along with the Cairo and Moscow platforms, to form one united delegation to participate in the Geneva talks,” Syrian opposition member Bassma Kodmani told reporters in Riyadh.

Kodmani added that further meetings would be held on Friday to finalise the names and number of representatives each group would have in the 50-strong unified delegation.

The delegates at the meeting have been under heavy pressure to row back on some of their more radical demands after a series of battlefield victories that have given Assad’s regime the upper hand.

A Cairo-based Syrian opposition group agreed earlier Thursday to join ranks with other opposition clusters including the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) -- the largest bloc in the opposition -- and the Istanbul-based National Coalition.

After prolonged discussions that dragged into the night, Moscow-based Syrian opposition group also appeared to have joined forces with that delegation.

But there were still lingering differences.  AFP

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