Syria Opposition to Decide on Peace Talks
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The opposition Syrian National Coalition is due to discuss whether it will attend a peace summit in Geneva next week, after the Syrian government said it had offered a limited ceasefire and prisoner swap in anticipation of talks.
The SNC was due to meet on Saturday in Istanbul, a day after failing to decide whether it would attend the UN-backed talks, set to start on January 22.
The meeting comes after a flurry of diplomatic activity. On Friday, the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, announced he had handed Russia plans for a ceasefire in Aleppo, and was ready to exchange lists with rebel forces on a possible prisoner swap.
Muallem said: "The desires and aspirations of the Syrian people are important to us."
"I believe the coalition will arrive at a decision for the good of the Syrian people."
Washington and Moscow have been trying to negotiate confidence-building measures to force the two sides to the table in Geneva. The SNC has previously demanded the resignation of Assad before it commits to talks.
Fighting continues in Syria as diplomats and politicians attempt to agree on the peace talks. The Syrian Media Centre group reported heavy government shelling across parts of Damascus this morning, including in Qaboun and Qalamoun.
It also reported that barrel bombs had been dropped on Zabadani, a suburb of Damascus, by government helicopters, causing significant damage to residential areas. The number of casualties is still unknown, Al Jazeera reported.
In Northern Aleppo, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked the rival rebel group, the Islamic Front, with a car bomb, killing 13. It also attacked rival rebels in the east of the district, killing four.