Bombs rock Damascus as war enters seventh year

Reading a joint statement following the second day of third round peace talks over the Syrian conflict in the capital Astana, Kamaldinov said the parties emphasized their determination to strengthen the cease-fire in Syria.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian delegation's representative, Osama Abu Zeid, told Sputnik that the armed opposition decided not to participate in the round of Astana talks.

"They are also plainly created to spoil attempts to sustain political talks", de Mistura said in a statement issued in Geneva after Syrian state media reported two suicide bomb attacks killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens more in the capital.

The tide of the war has largely turned in Mr Assad's favour since 2015 thanks to Russian and Iranian help on the battlefield, but United Nations officials have urged that a diplomatic solution must be reached, calling on on all parties to ensure the war does not reach its seventh birthday.

Russia, Iran and Turkey reaffirmed their commitment to consolidating and strengthening the ceasefire regime in Syria during a fresh round of peace talks March 14-15 in Astana.

The spokesman for the rebel faction Suqour al-Sham Maamoun Haj Mousa told Efe on Monday that his group would not engage in any kind of dialogue, including the UN-backed Geneva talks, unless the Syria and Russian Federation changed their tactics. He said Russian Federation was dealing with the situation.

According to the head of the Russian delegation, participants of Astana talks confirmed that, despite the existing ceasefire violations in Syria, the level of violence in the country has declined. He also accused Turkey of being responsible for the opposition's demarche. "And so I think these diplomatic discussions at this time are to improve the position of Turkey in order to clear the way for the taking over of Raqqah", he stated.

The Syrian armed opposition has not yet looked at Russia's draft of the Syrian constitution, however the issue of establishing a constitutional commission is being discussed now. In general, several documents are considered at talks on Syria in Astana, according to Lavrentyev.

"As for the participation of armed opposition representatives in the talks, representatives of the Southern and Northern fronts are expected to arrive tonight". "Tomorrow they will hold consultations with experst from the casefire guarantor countries on compliance with the cessation of hostilities". Russia and Turkey brokered the arrangement with the help of Iran last December after Russian airstrikes helped Assad defeat rebels in East Aleppo.

  • Leroy Wright