US Delegation Invited to Talks Between Damascus, 'Syrian Opposition' in Astana

"We have only heard a statement, but we have not received any invitations", Alloush representing the Jaysh al-Islam group said.

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday the next round of United Nations-led peace talks on Syria, scheduled for February 20, could turn out to be "disappointing" because of Syrian government "intransigence".

The delegation includes representatives from several rebel groups, including Faylaq al-Sham, an Islamist faction active around Damascus, and Liwa Sultan Murad, a battalion close to Turkey.

Mohamed Sabra, a lawyer, was chosen as the chief negotiator during the Geneva talks on February 20, sources from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

In the past, the HNC has opposed including the two rival opposition groupings in its delegation, accusing members of the coalitions of being too flexible with regard to the Syrian government.

The UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was also invited to the Astana meeting due to start Wednesday, alongside representatives from Jordan and the U.S. If the ceasefire is ensured, this will contribute to the success of the Geneva talks, he said.

But he later appeared to backtrack and said he would delay dispatching invites.

The talks are being brokered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's allies Russia, Iran and rebel backer Turkey, which are all key players in the conflict.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the next round of Astana talks on Syria settlement will take place on February 15-16.

  • Leroy Wright