Glimmer of hope as Syrian peace talks begin

Peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s five-year civil war got off to a chaotic start yesterday, with the main opposition group at first boycotting the session, then later agreeing to meet with UN officials.

The commitment by the group known as the Higher Negotiating Committee (HNC) came just minutes before UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura met with a delegation representing the government of President Bashar Assad.

The developments gave a glimmer of hope that peace efforts in Syria might get off the ground for the first time since two earlier rounds of negotiations collapsed in 2014.

The conflict has killed at least 250,000 people and forced millions to flee the country.

The HNC, a Saudi-backed bloc, had previously said it would not participate in the UN-sponsored talks without an end to the bombardment of civilians by Russian and Syrian government forces, a lifting of blockades in rebel-held areas and the release of detainees.


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