GENEVA (Sputnik) — Damascus rejects calls of the Riyadh-backed Syrian opposition to send international monitoring mission to Aleppo, and insists that presence of any foreign troops in Syria is unacceptable, Bashar Jaafari, the head of the government's delegation at Geneva talks, told Sputnik on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Riyadh-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC) asked UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to put the ongoing talks in Geneva "on pause," blaming the government for escalation of violence in Aleppo. Damascus claims it is fighting Islamic State and Nusra Front terrorists in the area.
"They [HNC] are misreading the reasons and objectives of our presence in Geneva. Every time we come with concrete actions and initiatives, they shift the attention to something else. By calling for bringing international force [monitoring mission] to Aleppo, they are calling for further internationalization of the Syrian crisis and bringing further foreign interference into the Syrian domestic affairs," Jaafari said.
"This is in itself contrary to Geneva spirit, which stipulates that we should work as Syrians without any preconditions and any foreign interference. Of course the Syrian government is against any presence of any foreign troops on the Syrian soil," he stressed.
"We will pray for that," Jaafari said, when asked whether the government delegation would be ready for direct talks with the opposition if a unified delegation were formed.
Last week, a source at the negotiations told Sputnik that a unified delegation of opposition would be formed after the current round ended. It would include 15 members and bring together the representatives of the Riyadh-backed High Negotiations Committee, Moscow-Cairo-Astana groups, domestic opposition formed at the Hmeimim airbase, Syrian women's council and the Kurds.
"The Syrian opposition is not only about the group of Riyadh. It also includes the group of Moscow, Cairo, Astana, Hmeimim group, the women consultative council and the civil society. So here we are dealing with five main bodies of oppositions," Jaafari said.
"We are a disciplined delegation… We will be here as scheduled with the special envoy. We do not react childishly, we are here to implement the national agenda, to defend the interests of our country. We do not work for foreign agendas and do not get instructions from outside," Jaafari said. "So we will stay here as long as it takes, to serve the interests of our people."
"We will react accordingly," he said, when asked what his response to the HNC request to suspend the talks would be.