Syrian Party Says Armed Groups to Skip Sochi Congress Fearing Loss of Backers

© Sputnik / Vladimir SergeevHotels in the Rosa Khutor ski resort area in the Adler District of Sochi.
Hotels in the Rosa Khutor ski resort area in the Adler District of Sochi. - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Syria’s armed opposition groups intend to shun the upcoming Syria National Dialogue Congress in Russia's Sochi because they are afraid that their western and regional allies may devoid them of backing if they join the conference, a representative of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Tarek Ahmad, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"This statement is an indicator that the United States, along with some European countries and some regional powers are disappointed with Russia’s recent military and diplomatic successes and a breakthrough between Russia, Turkey and Iran following last week’s eighth round of the Astana talks. The rebels, supported by these states, are afraid that they may lose the backing of their sponsors if they go to Sochi," Ahmad said.

According to the opposition figure, the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi could become an opportunity for a breakthrough in the negotiation process which reached a stalemate at the Geneva talks.

READ MORE: Moscow, Cairo Opposition Delegates Abruptly Quit Riyadh Meeting on Syria

Particularly, opposition Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front rejected both the talks on Syrian settlement in Astana and the upcoming Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, the front's military coordinator Abou Tawfiq Deiri told Sputnik.

"We are rejecting in our statement not only Sochi but also the Astana process," Deiri said, stressing that the front does not accept any other platforms on Syria but the one in Geneva.

At the same time, member of the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission (SNC) Ahmed Asrawi told Sputnik that the group has not decided yet whether it would participate in the congress in Sochi due to the lack of information about the event.

"[The decision on the SNC’s participation has] not [been taken] yet because we have no information about what's going to happen there. There is a lot to contemplate, we want to know for what reason the congress is held, what is this congress and what the result will be," Asrawi said.

He explained that the SNC has not received information about the event yet and did not know "for the sake of what" it should attend the Congress.

"Now there are no official contacts between the SNC and Russia. We are making efforts, but we do not know whether they will happen," Asrawi added.

About 40 groups of Syria's armed opposition spoke against participation in the national dialogue congress in Sochi and stated their commitment to the demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad must go, according to a communique issued by the opposition.

General view during a meeting of a delegation of Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) with UN Special Envoy for Syria during peace talks at the United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland, May 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
Syria's Armed Opposition Not Interested in New Astana Peace Talks
Following last week’s eighth round of the Astana talks, Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of the ceasefire in Syria, stated that that the Congress would be held in Sochi on January 29-30, 2018, with a special preparatory meeting taking place on January 19-20. The Syrian National Dialogue Congress will become the third format of reconciliation negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition, along with the Geneva and Astana talks.

The congress will bring together a vast number of opposition and pro-governmental forces, as well as representatives of all ethnic and religious groups of Syria to push forward the process of the political settlement in the war-torn country and address the issues of the future Syrian constitution.

On December 23, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Sputnik that up to 1,700 people may participate in the congress. Bogdanov also said that the meeting's participants would form a constitutional commission, tasked with the reform of Syria's main law.

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