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Terrorist Groups Must Be Excluded From Opposition Delegation to Syria Talks

© AFP 2021 / ZEIN AL-RIFAAn unidentified photographer stands next to rebel fighters from Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) holding a position behind a sand barrier on August 25, 2015, on the frontline in the Bashkoy area, on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, where opposition fighters are battling Syrian pro-government forces
An unidentified photographer stands next to rebel fighters from Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) holding a position behind a sand barrier on August 25, 2015, on the frontline in the Bashkoy area, on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, where opposition fighters are battling Syrian pro-government forces - Sputnik International
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that the opposition delegation to the January 25 intra-Syria reconciliation talks must not include terrorist organizations such as Jaysh al-Islam.

GENEVA (Sputnik) – The opposition delegation to the January 25 intra-Syria reconciliation talks must not include terrorist organizations such as Jaysh al-Islam, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told journalists.

"We believe that the opposition delegation must not be represented by terrorist elements but the forces that are actually standing for a political settlement," Gatilov said on Wednesday, adding that groups such as Jaysh al-Islam back a military solution to the Syrian crisis.

According to Gatilov, Russia has not yet seen the list of opposition groups to be included in the delegation that will take part in the January 25 talks and it is not clear if it will include any terrorist organizations.

The Russian deputy foreign minister stressed that an opposition delegation must take part in the January 25 talks in order for the interests of the entire Syrian population to be reflected in the reconciliation process.

"Otherwise it would be hard to expect that all the eventual decisions made as a result of the negotiation process would be fulfilled by all sides," Gatilov said.

He added that a Damascus delegation has already voiced its firm decision to take part in the January 25 talks.

News confernce by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov - Sputnik International
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According to Gatilov, there is no need for the foreign ministers of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to attend the negotiations. ISSG, which consists of multiple countries including Russia and the United States, was formed last year with the aim to resolve the Syrian crisis.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the army loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and militant groups, including Jaysh al-Islam and Islamic State (ISIL, also known as Daesh), a terrorist group banned in a range of countries including Russia.

Russia, along with the United States and the United Nations, has been playing an active role in the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

On Wednesday, Russian, US and UN diplomats took part in a meeting in preparation for a major intra-Syrian conference in Geneva on January 25 where opposition representatives will meet with Syrian authorities.

Several groups of Syrian external opposition met in the Saudi capital Riyadh last December despite protests from Damascus. They formed a council that hopes to handpick delegates to represent the opposition at the upcoming talks with Damascus representatives.

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