Syrian rebels threaten peace talk boycott over alleged cease-fire violations

Syrian rebels belonging to the Free Syrian Army umbrella coalition take positions during fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime near Damascus in October 2015. On Monday, some Syrian rebel groups in the Free Syrian Army said they may not engage in proposed peace negotiations with the Syrian government, which they say is violating the cease-fire. File Photo by Ammar Al Bushy/UPI |

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Jan. 3 (UPI) — Some Syrian rebel groups said they may not engage in proposed peace negotiations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over alleged violations of a recent cease-fire.

Moderate militant forces under the Free Syrian Army umbrella rebel coalition threatened to boycott the Russia and Turkey-backed peace talks over the alleged violations, adding that any territorial advances by Assad’s forces or Iran-supported militias would end the cease-fire that began Friday.

“The regime and its allies have continued firing and committed many and large violations,” a statement released Monday by the 10 moderate rebel factions said.

The rebels said most violations are occurring northwest of Damascus in an area where Assad’s forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, backed by Iran, are attempting to advance.

“We are suspending all talks and consultations linked to the Astana negotiations until the [Syrian regime] adheres to the ceasefire,” the statement said.

Peace negotiations were scheduled to begin in late January in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana. The recent cease-fire, which was brokered mainly by Russia and Turkey, was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council on Saturday.

The United Nations estimates more than 300,000 people have died in the nearly six-year Syrian civil war.


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