Russia says the next round of Syria talks in Geneva is delayed

Despite the Russian claim, the UN said it had no confirmation of a delay to the talks aimed at ending the six-year war in Syria. Neighbour Turkey reiterated that regime leader Bashar al Assad has "no place in Syria's future."

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo are in ruins as the conflict enters its sixth year.

Geneva talks on the Syria crisis have been postponed from February 8 to the end of the month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday, after meeting some members of the Syrian opposition in Moscow.

The main opposition groups did not attend the meeting. The United Nations said it was unable to confirm the delay. Turkey, also a key player in the talks to end the six-year war in Syria, has not commented on the possible change of date.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) with members of Syria’s opposition in Moscow on Friday, January 27, 2017. (AP)

Turkey, Russia and Iran ended two days of talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, earlier this week with the announcement of a trilateral mechanism to police a fragile truce between the Syrian regime and several opposition groups. The talks were seen as a complement to the UN-sponsored Geneva peace process.

"It's pleasant that the very announcement about the meeting in Astana, preparation and conduct of these talks have already served as a stimulus for our colleagues in the United Nations to turn to some action and actually announce a new round of Syria talks in Geneva. However, this date was still moved from February 8 to the end of next month," Lavrov said.

The UN said it was unable to confirm any change.

"There is no confirmation that the February talks are postponed," said Yara Sharif spokesperson for UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura on Friday. Sharif said de Mistura would first discuss the issue in New York next week with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Russia on Friday also said it hopes for long-term cooperation with Turkey and Iran on resolving the Syria crisis.

No place for Assad in Syria's future

In Syria, Turkey is continuing Operation Euphrates Shield and operations against the Syrian regime and its supporters, Daesh and the YPG.

"We will continue to support the Free Syrian Army with our own means in Operation Euphrates Shield," Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Thursday. "It is not an operation to gain land in Syria, but to protect Turkey's own borders."

The Turkish military on Friday said it had "neutralized" 22 members of Daesh near the town of al-Bab in northern Syria in the previous 24 hours.

Turkish authorities use the word "neutralised" in their statements to imply the militants in question were killed, captured, or surrounded.

Turkey advocates a political transition in Syria to end the conflict which has killed hundreds of thousands and made millions refugees. A priority for Turkey's entry into the conflict was the removal of Bashar al Assad from power.

Last week, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek seemed to suggest Turkey might change its policy towards Assad.

"The facts on the ground have changed dramatically, so Turkey can no longer insist on a settlement without Assad, it's not realistic," Simsek said at Davos.

Clarifying the issue, Turkey's foreign ministry on Thursday said Ankara's position "remains that Assad has no place in Syria's future."

TRTWorld and agencies