14:25 GMT +321 January 2020
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    After years of war, UN peace talks mediator Staffan de Mistura told reporters Wednesday that Syria's opposition members must to come to grips with the fact that they never won the war against President Bashar Al-Assad.

    "For the opposition, the message is very clear: if they were planning to win the war, facts are proving that is not the case," the 70-year-old diplomat said, adding "now is the time to win the peace."

    According to de Mistura, the only way forward is for officials to determine a long-term political solution. If they don't, the country may see a new version of Daesh crop up in their region.

    "Victory can only be if there is a sustainable political long-term solution," de Mistura said. "Otherwise instead of war, God forbid, we may see plenty of low intensity guerrilla [conflicts] going on for the next 10 years, and you will see no reconstruction, which is a very sad outcome of winning a war."

    When asked if the 51-year-old Syrian president had won the war, de Mistura said it wasn't so cut and dry. Pro-government forces had just advanced militarily, the diplomat noted.

    Planning to join the sixth round of peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, de Mistura is hoping to cement a resolution to help resolve the situation in Idlib in northwestern Syria, where rebels are gaining influence in the city of nearly 2 million residents.

    "I am confident… there will be a non-conflictual solution — let's say not a new Aleppo, that's what we want to avoid at any cost, if we have learned from the past," de Mistura urged.

    In mid July, Hayet Tahrir al-Sham, a group of rebels previously associated with Al-Qaeda, took control of Idlib after its Islamist allies-turned-rivals, Ahrar al Sham, withdrew from the city and province following a ceasefire.

    While previous talks offered little progress, de Mistura, who has been involved in negotiations since January 2016, hopes the next round with be more fruitful.


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