Syrian rebel groups say they will freeze peace talks
Twelve Syrian rebel groups announced late on Monday that they will freeze any discussions linked to the planned peace negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana due to "breaches" by the Syrian government in a four-day old ceasefire.
As a result of continued violations and the escalation of the situation, "the rebel factions announce... the freezing of all discussions linked to the Astana negotiations," a joint statement by the groups said.
The factions were referring to talks planned for late January and organised by Russia, a close ally of the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which backs the opposition rebels. Among the factions who made the announcement were Jaish al Islam, al-Jibha al Shamiya and Fayleq al Sham.
A nationwide ceasefire, brokered by Russia and Turkey, went into effect in Syria on Friday, in a new attempt to end the violence in the war-ravaged country and relaunch a peace process.
The fragile truce has held in some parts of the country, but several violations were reported on fronts, mainly at the outskirts of the capital Damascus. The truce excludes the Islamic State extremist militia, the formerly al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front and their affiliates, according to a Syrian army statement. (dpa)
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