Syria Fighting Continues as UN Talks Get Under Way

UN Envoy Promises 'Serious Try' at Peace

by Jason Ditz, February 23, 2017

UN officials were openly pessimistic in the lead-up to the talks, but today Staffan de Mistura promised a “serious try” at brokering some sort of peace as Syrian government and rebel forces arrived in Geneva for another round of internationally backed peace talks.

Despite efforts by brokering nations like Russia and Turkey, the fighting didn’t actually stop in the lead-up to the talks, with both sides reporting that they are continuing to carry out military operations in various parts of the country.

Such fighting amid the talks has derailed efforts in the past, with one side or the other declaring that losses they suffered during the negotiations prove the other side isn’t serious about a diplomatic deal, and withdrawing outright. That’s just one of many problems the negotiators are likely to face, however.

The hope is always that the peace talks will lead to a negotiated settlement with a unity government and eventually free elections, but both government and rebels have very different ideas of how that’s going to work out, and some of the rebels are insisting unilateral regime change as a precondition for any deal, followed by new laws precluding most of the existing leadership running in future “free” elections.

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