Syrian Government Delegation Says Turkey, Rebels Aim to Disrupt Astana Talks

The head of Syria’s government delegation at peace talks in Astana accused Turkey’s delegation and Syrian rebels, who arrived on Thursday – the last day of the meeting, of trying to disrupt the negotiations by refusing to agree to a communique.

Bashar Ja’afari said the rebels and their Turkish backers had a “clear will to disrupt the Astana meetings”, and that Ankara must pull its troops out of Syria and close its border to jihadist fighters if it was to be a real guarantor of a Turkish-Russian ceasefire agreed at the end of last year.

“No final communique was issued because of Turkish opposition to a draft statement,” Ja’afari said.

The arrival of a downgraded Turkish delegation with the rebels on the last day of the talks in the Kazakh capital also signaled that they were not serious about the talks, he said.

“The delegation came with a low representation that does not rise up to what Turkey claims as a guarantor … and so the Turkish role prompts many question marks over it,” he said.

Ja’afari said Turkey must take decisive steps to stop foreign jihadists entering Syrian and end its violation of Syrian sovereignty by pulling its troops out if the ceasefire was to take hold on the ground.

The ceasefire has been repeatedly violated, with each side blaming the other, while fighting with jihadist groups such as Islamic State and other armed groups, which are not included in the truce, has raged on.