First Day of Syria Talks Show No Sign of Progress

Brief Face-to-Face Meeting Ends With Threats to Leave

by Jason Ditz, January 23, 2017

Syrian rebels and government officials attended their first day of peace talks in Astana, which saw them meeting face to face for the first time in the entire war. The meeting was far from cause for celebration, however, as the two sides angrily traded barbs, and threatened to leave.

The rebels continued to accuse the government, and their allies from Iran, of violating the ceasefire by attacking targets linked to al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. The Nusra Front is not party to the ceasefire, which has led to officials insisting no violation took place.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, the head of the government’s delegation, condemned the rebel leader as “insolent,” and encouraged President Bashar al-Assad to withdraw from the talks. This didn’t happen, obviously, but the sides quickly adjourned to separate rooms.

There’s no indication that anything worthwhile came of the indirect talks that happened over the course of the rest of the day, with the rebels insisting that all talks have to happen from separate rooms to punish the government for ceasefire violations.

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