Iran invited to next Syrian talks in Vienna

Iran has been invited to attend second Syrian summit after first meeting between Turkish, US, Russian and Saudi Foreign Ministers on Syria's future in Vienna

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif resume nuclear talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne

US officials said Iran has been called to join in on international talks over the Syria crisis.

Foreign ministers from the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Turkey gathered for the first meeting in Vienna on Friday to discuss the situation in Syria and to define strategies to support the so-called "political transition.” However, they failed to reach an agreement over the political situation of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

During the meeting, Turkey, the US and Saudi Arabia consistently defended to topple the Assad regime-backing opposition groups, while Russia continued to supported the regime, since the beginning of the conflict.

The next diplomatic summit is expected to be held on Thursday and continue on Friday in Vienna, with Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu, Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov along with a number of top European and Arab diplomats.

Although the US doesn't agree on Iran's "destabilizing activities" in Syria, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that officials "always have recognised that at some point in the discussion, moving toward a political transition, we have to have a conversation and a dialogue with Iran."

"It's up to Iran to decide whether they're going to or not when they are asked," he added.

For the first time, Iran has been invited to attend talks over Syria’s future and they have supported Assad’s regime in Syria during the ongoing war against opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army.

Iran has played a key role in the Syrian civil war. An Iranian official spoke on national television on Tuesday, and said that the Revolutionary Guard has sent more military advisers to Syria. Iranian military help comes with the purpose of saving Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s withering authority.

A massive offensive on Syria’s southern Aleppo launched on Oct. 16 by Syrian regime troops backed by Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah fighters and the largest known to date presence of Iranian fighters on the ground.

Meanwhile, Russia began its aerial campaign over Syria on Sept. 30, initially saying it would be targeting positions held by the ISIS terrorist group, but concerns were raised when it appeared that the majority of Russian air strikes were targeting the Syrian opposition fighting against Bashar al Assad’s regime.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Russian warplanes of hitting civilian targets in western Syria, claiming dozens of innocent lives, adding that the act amounts to be a war crime.

The United Nations has raised its estimates for Syrians displaced in the past month from 50,000 to 120,000 in its first report released regarding the humanitarian crisis resulting from recent Russian air strikes in the country.

The war in Syria has claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 people, most of whom were killed by regime air strikes and indiscriminate barrel bombings from helicopters on civilian areas.

Approximately, half the country’s population has been displaced, with an estimated 6.7 million people seeking refuge elsewhere in Syria and 5 million moving onto neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

This year around half a million refugees, mostly Syrians, have entered Europe, hoping to get asylum in economically well-off EU countries.

TRTWorld and agencies