AMMAN Syria’s main rebel groups were discussing with Turkey a ceasefire proposal being negotiated with Russia but had rejected Moscow’s demand to exclude a rebel stronghold near the capital from any deal, a senior rebel official said on Wednesday.
Munir al Sayal, the head of the political wing of Ahrar al Sham, whose group is involved in the talks with Turkey, said it was premature to talk about any chances of success.
“Discussions are going on with Turkish sponsorship but the Russian enemy is trying to exclude the Eastern Ghouta (suburb) of Damascus from any attempt towards a comprehensive ceasefire in Syria that would be accepted by the revolution’s factions,” he told Reuters.
Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday Turkey and Russia have prepared an agreement for a ceasefire in Syria in stepped up diplomacy by Ankara which arms and equips Syria’s main Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions. [nL5N1EN1MS]
“Separating liberated areas is totally rejected and all the factions are agreed that excluding any area is a betrayal of the revolution,” he said.
The senior rebel official also said Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had not presented them with any offers so far while Turkey, which he said was behind the peace initiative, was not imposing any demands on the rebels.
“It’s premature to talk about chances of success. The Russian enemy still has no clear position and repeats the regime’s demands,” he said.
Sayal also said it would be futile to hold talks whose ultimate objective would not be the goal of ending Assad’s rule, a view supported by Ankara.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Janet Lawrence)