US, Russia set to clash over Syria sanctions

And the leader of an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria on Monday derided exiled Syrian politicians and rebels for taking part in the Geneva talks, arguing in a video posted online that they "were handing victory" to Assad.

The fourth round of the UN-backed intra-Syrian talks between the government and opposition factions kicked off in Geneva last week.

He tells reporters: "We hope that Russian Federation will adopt a positive attitude".

Warplanes bombed rebel-held areas around several Syrian cities on Sunday including in the al-Waer district of Homs, and in towns around Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor said.

Russian Federation and the United States are headed for a clash at the UN Security Council as Moscow prepares to veto a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on its ally Damascus.

The opposition's High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has repeatedly said its central goal in Geneva is to discuss "political transition" in Syria.

The strikes come as an opposition delegation gears up to meet Monday with United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura in Geneva to continue talks aimed at resolving Syria's six-year-old war.

"We hope that Russian Federation will bet on the Syrian people and will not bet on one person who has chose to destroy the whole of Syria so as to remain in power", he added, referring to Assad.

Representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime were due Tuesday to meet once again with de Mistura, who has been urging the warring sides to show respect for each other and avoid trading inflammatory accusations.

Merging the delegations of the Syrian opposition in Geneva is impossible so far, the diplomat said.

The focus in Geneva would be three political issues - a new constitution, United Nations -supervised elections and accountable governance - based on Security Council resolution 2254.

"We are open in all contexts with the American administration and we always were constructive in finding possible ground for our common cooperation, first of all, in the fight against terrorism in Syria", he said.

De Mistura has said that all issues related to "terrorism" and the failing ceasefire be dealt with in parallel talks in Astana.

Both sides agreed on the need that the issue of fighting terrorism be among the priorities of the agenda of talks aimed at solving the crisis in Syria.

Earlier in the day, HNC spokesperson Farah al-Atassi told Russia's Interfax news agency that the opposition expected Moscow to recognise the HNC as a full-fledged partner in the negotiations and warned against dragging out the process.

"We oppose the use of chemical weapons", he said.

"I think it's about time for Russians to understand that if they keep avoiding working with HNC, in a few years it might happen they will be sitting in front of ISIS leaders and trying to find solutions for Syria", Atassi said, using an acronym to refer to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

  • Leroy Wright