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Syria opposition making 'unacceptable' demands, Russia envoy says

Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev attends a meeting on September 11, 2018 [SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP via Getty Images]
Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev attends a meeting on September 11, 2018 [SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP via Getty Images]

The Syrian opposition is making demands that are "unacceptable" in the ongoing Syrian peace talks, Russia's presidential envoy has claimed.

Following consultations with the Turkish and Iranian delegations in Kazakhstan, at the 17th round of Astana talks for the Syrian process, the Russian envoy Alexander Lavrentiev claimed on Tuesday that the Syrian opposition often makes demands and requests that allegedly force the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad to adopt a hard line in many issues.

Lavrentiev lamented it as a serious obstacle to the ongoing Syrian peace talks which, after a decade of conflict, have seen very few tangible results. "We need to go down the path of finding compromises, of not provoking each other to take tough steps," he said. "You can't dictate something and can't make proposals that are absolutely unacceptable for the other side."

Moscow's envoy also said that the main issues both the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition stumble upon are the roles of the armed forces and special services in society. "This is a very painful issue," he said.

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Lavrentiev's comments were largely in reference to the visit by UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen to Damascus earlier this month, in which he talked with officials and ensured support for the work of national delegations for the peace process. "We very much hope that similar work will be done with the opposition," the Russian envoy said.

The last round of talks to draft a new Syrian constitution and reconcile the two sides took place in the third week of October this year, but according to the UN envoy Pedersen, they ended in "disappointment" and did not achieve what he hoped for.

It was the Syrian regime's side and representative who decided to end the talks, blaming the opposition for not cooperating and making things work. The Syrian opposition's representative, however, implied that Damascus did not have the "necessary will to reach an agreement and to reach a political solution."

Despite the various peace talks for Syria failing to bear any significant results so far, Damascus and the opposition last week released a number of each other's detainees as part of the Astana process.

While Turkey has largely supported the Syrian opposition throughout the decade-long conflict, Russia and Iran have backed the Assad regime.

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