Syrian settlement talks to continue in Geneva
Syria's government and opposition delegations are due to continue their talks in Geneva on Tuesday.
On February 10, UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi held separate meetings with the sides' delegations, but there was no traditional press conference summing up the results of that day's negotiations.
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, for his part, said that the main goal of the Geneva II conference is to combat terrorism and stop the bloodshed in Syria.
The Syrian authorities' delegation will not object to discussing a possible transitional government for Syria when the time is right for it, he said.
The opposition's representative Anas Al-Abda said that the delegation sent by the Syrian opposition to Geneva includes representatives of insurgents who are immediately involved in the country's hostilities.
Seven new members have recently joined the delegation, among them representatives of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front group, he said.
Apart from them, the opposition's delegation includes former officers of Syria's security services who sided with the opposition.
According to Al-Abda, they will join the talks only if discussions on military issues are launched with the authorities.
Representatives of the Islamic Front, a major association of armed groups fighting against pro-government forces, are also among the opposition delegation's members, he said.
"No one holds a monopoly on armed fighting. Islamic Front has complaints about Geneva, and we respect them. We will be pleased if they join us," Al-Abda said.
The first round of Geneva-based talks between Syria's government and opposition delegations ended on January 31 without producing any serious breakthroughs due to differences in the sides' priorities.
While the Syrian authorities prioritize the fight against terrorism, the opposition's priority is to secure the formation of a transitional ruling body in the country in which incumbent President Bashar al-Assad will not play any role.
Analysts, however, say that the success in persuading the sides in the Syrian conflict to join the talks, albeit with Brahimi acting as a mediator, is already a positive development.
Certain progress has been made concerning the Syrian city of Homs, where a tense standoff continues between the Syrian army and the opposition's armed groups. A ceasefire was declared in Homs on February 7, allowing the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to evacuate civilians from Homs and deliver humanitarian supplies there.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that over 600 people, including 210 women and 180 children, had been able to leave the besieged city of Homs by February 10 thanks to this ceasefire deal.