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No sign of breakthrough on first day of Syria talks

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Syria peace talks in the Kazakhstan capital, Astana, got off to an explosive start Monday as rebel groups announced they would not talk face to face with the regime and the chief Syrian delegate slammed the armed opposition as “terrorists.”

Peace talks with Syrian rebels and the war-torn country’s government got off to a rocky start Monday, while Washington said President Donald Trump was open to joint operations with Russia against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

THE SYRIAN REBEL’S REPRESENTATIVES VOWED TO KEEP FIGHTING

The Syrian rebels’ representatives vowed to keep fighting if peace negotiations with the government of President Bashar al-Assad fail, as the first day of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana ended with no apparent breakthrough.

Monday’s meetings, organised by key players Russia, Turkey and Iran, could have marked the first time armed rebel groups negotiated directly with the Assad regime since the conflict erupted in 2011.

But the rebels backed out of direct talks because of the regime’s continued bombardment and attacks on a flashpoint area near Damascus.

THEY TOOK PART IN INDIRECT TALKS WITH THE GOVERNMENT

However, they took part in indirect talks with the government and held a three-way meeting with Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, an encounter rebel spokesman Yehya al-Aridi described as “long and productive”.

“If the negotiations succeed, then we are with the negotiations,” another rebel spokesman Osama Abu Zeid told AFP early on Monday.

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