08:34 GMT18 January 2021
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    Terrorists were among the representatives of the so-called 'moderate Syrian opposition' that Saudi Arabia invited for a conference, a brigadier general for the Free Syrian Army told Sputnik.

    A conference being held in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, bringing together so-called 'moderate Syrian opposition' is being undermined by the presence of terrorists among those invited, Husam Al-Awak, brigadier general from the Free Syrian Army told Sputnik.

    "The Free Syrian Army has never cooperated with extremists, and among the representatives of 'opposition' delegations in Riyadh a committee was chosen that is closely connected with the Muslim Brotherhood," said Al-Awak.

    The criticism echoes earlier concerns expressed by Syria's opposition People's Party and Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian about some of the delegates attending the three day conference.

    "Terrorists will never be allowed to present themselves as moderate opposition and formulate the future of Syria and the region," said Amir-Abdollahian on Thursday, and warned against "sideline talks" outside of the framework of the agreements reached in Vienna last month.

    Saudi Arabia invited 116 members of political and militant opposition groups from Syria to Riyadh in order to try and unite some of them. Among those not invited were the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed force, the YPG, which controls large parts of northern Syria. The Kurds held their own meeting in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah.

    A picture taken on December 8, 2015 shows a general view of a meeting hosted by Syrian Kurdish factions in Al-Malikiyeh, a town in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province, held to discuss a vision for Syria's future
    © AFP 2020 / DELIL SOULEIMAN
    A picture taken on December 8, 2015 shows a general view of a meeting hosted by Syrian Kurdish factions in Al-Malikiyeh, a town in Syria's northeastern Hasakeh province, held to discuss a vision for Syria's future
    On Thursday the militant Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, which has links to al-Qaeda, announced it objected to the role of the Damascus-based political group National Coordination Body for Democratic Change and pulled out of the conference, which concluded on Friday.

    Tags:
    Syrian peace talks, Syrian conflict, Syria, Riyadh
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