Syrian Rebels Withdraw From Astana Peace Talks

Kazakh FM Expects Rebels to Return to Talks Soon

The limited subset of Syrian rebels who have been participating in the Russia and Turkey-backed peace talks in Astana have announced today that they are suspending participation indefinitely, claiming the Syrian military was violating the ceasefire by bombing their territory.

The ceasefire in place is meant to preclude such bombings, though with the rebels at Astana taking and losing territory here and there to al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, it isn’t always clear exactly where their territory begins and ends, and its not at all clear Syria is deliberately going after these minor factions or just trying to keep Nusra out of their territory.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry downplayed the latest move, saying they expect the Syrian rebels to fairly quickly return to the talks, noting that they hadn’t “completely” walked out with their announced suspension of direct participation in the talks.

The rebel statement also issued additional demands that the Syrian government cede considerable territory to them which had been lost before the ceasefire took effect, and for the military to unilaterally release rebel prisoners that they continue to hold.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.