Kerry urges Syria foes to attend peace talks; rebel, jihadist killings rise

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday urged Syria’s opposition coalition to attend next week’s peace conference in Montreaux, Switzerland as the civil war gets marred by rising killings between rebels and foreign fighters.

Kerry said the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) general should vote to participate in the Syria peace talks during its assembly meeting in Turkey on Friday. He said the peace conference dubbed Geneva II is the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution, and a political solution to the terrible conflict.

“Geneva II is about: It is about establishing a process essential to the formation of a transition government body – governing body with full executive powers established by mutual consent. That process – it is the only way to bring about an end to the civil war that has triggered one of the planet’s most severe humanitarian disasters and which has created the seeding grounds for extremism,” Kerry said in a press briefing in Washington, D.C.

“The Syrian people need to be able to determine the future of their country. Their voice must be heard. And any names put forward for leadership of Syria’s transition must, according to the terms of Geneva I and every one of the reiterations of that being the heart and soul of Geneva II, those names must be agreed to by both the opposition and the regime. That is the very definition of mutual consent,” Kerry added.

The Syrian government appears to be keen on attending the conference on Wednesday as indicated by Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Muallem in a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In the letter, however, Muallem set a condition for the representation of the government in the peace talks.

“We demand the countries supporting terrorism cease and refrain from funding, training, arming or harbouring terrorist groups in harmony with international law and UN resolutions,” Al Jazeera quoted Muallem as saying in the letter to Ban.

As another round of peace talk aimed at ending the Syrian civil war comes, rebels have turned against each other killing at least 1,069 people, mostly fighters. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that 608 of the dead were Islamist and moderate rebels, 312 were jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and 130 were civilians.

The group claimed that ISIL executed 21 civilians in a children’s hospital in Aleppo and 99 anti-ISIL rebels. Other civilians were killed in the crossfire or in car bomb attacks launched by ISIL.

The rebels, on the other hand, executed 56 ISIL members they were holding as prisoners.

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