Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian rebel fires a weapon towards Syrian government troops loyal to President Bashar Assad in Aleppo, Syria, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. Activists said Syrian rebels have launched a counteroffensive in the northern city of Aleppo and recaptured a base near its international airport. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)
Syria-based groups say talks may be ‘last chance’ for peace
First Published Nov 11 2013 08:51 am • Last Updated Nov 11 2013 08:51 am

Beirut • An international peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia may be the last chance to negotiate an end to Syria’s civil war, a coalition of Syria-based opposition groups said Monday.

The call came as Syrian government forces consolidated control over yet another northern town, part of a steadily advancing offensive that has reversed rebel gains in recent weeks.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"This is the only available framework and might be the last chance to resolve the crisis in Syria," the Coalition of Forces for Peaceful Change said in a statement. Earlier in the day, Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said it too supported the Geneva talks and intended to attend them later this year.

Neither of the groups, however, have much influence over the disparate armed factions fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad. The Syria-based opposition ranges from officials close to the government, to intellectuals and parties that have opposed Assad’s Baath party for decades. The exiled group ranges from secular intellectuals to Islamic activists.

In its statement Monday, however, the exiled Coalition said it would only attend the Geneva talks if humanitarian aid is allowed to reach besieged areas and the government releases political prisoners. The group itself wants any future transitional government to exclude Assad and his close allies — a demand the Syrian government has rejected.

The proposed Geneva conference faces a series of obstacles: the most powerful and best-armed rebel groups aren’t party to the talks, and most fighting units are disorganized bands with little central command or leadership. Even if an agreement is reached in Geneva, it is unclear if it will be accepted on the ground.

As the fighting continues, troops loyal to Assad were on the march. In their latest blow to rebel fighters, government forces took the town of Tel Aran and a series of other positions in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said, a day after they consolidated their control of a key military base held by rebels since February. The British-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which receives its information from a network of activists on the ground, backed the state media’s reports.

The Observatory and an Aleppo activist said they believed the government’s gains were partly caused by rebel infighting. The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in particular, they said, was trying to drive weaker rebel groups from rebel-held areas.

On Monday, for example, ISIL fighters attacked another rebel group on a mountainous hillside in the coastal province of Latakia, the Observatory and the activist said.

"We are afraid of ISIL more than the regime," said the activist, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.


story continues below
story continues below

"The ISIL is not fighting the regime. It is seeking to expand, it is trying to seize the liberated areas and announce its Islamic rule," he said, adding that infighting had grown steadily over the past three months.

Also Monday, Syria’s state news agency said a mortar shell hit a school bus in the Bab Sharqi neighborhood of central Damascus, killing four children and the bus driver. It said four children and two teachers were also wounded.

The Observatory also reported a death toll of five people in the attack.

Mortar shells also hit a Greek Orthodox church in Damascus and wounded around a dozen students at a nearby school.

———

With reporting by Albert Aji in Damascus and Desmond Butler in Istanbul.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.