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Syrian peace talks stopped on Monday

Lebanon, Beirut: Syrian peace talks meant to begin this week were stopped Yesterday partly over the question of who would represent the opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. US Secretary of State John Kerry said he expected clarity within a day or two, and expressed support for the United Nations envoy who has the tricky task of issuing invitations for the first talks in two years to end the 5-year-old civil war.

The talks were meant to begin on Monday in Geneva, but have been held up by international disagreement over who should be invited from the opposition. Rebels also want an end to air strikes and government sieges of territory they hold, and the release of detainees. Diplomacy has so far yielded no progress towards ending or even curbing Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 250,000 people and driven more than 10 million from their homes.

Since the last peace conference was held in early 2014, fighters of the militant Islamic State have declared a caliphate across much of Syria and Iraq, and the war has drawn in most world powers. The United States has led air strikes against the militants since 2014 and Russia last year lau­n­ch­ed a separate air campaign against enemies of its ally Assad.

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