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Russian summit on Syria raises controversy, doubt

The Syrian opposition suspects Russia’s upcoming congress is a ploy to bolster the regime and dilute the United Nations’ influence.
Representatives of the Syria regime and rebel groups along with other attendees take part in the session of Syria peace talks in Astana on October 31, 2017.
Russia, Turkey and Iran pledged in Kazakhstan on October 31, 2017 to bring the Syrian regime and its opponents together for a "congress" to help nudge peace efforts towards a more lasting political settlement. / AFP PHOTO / Stanislav FILIPPOV        (Photo credit should read STANISLAV FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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The seventh round of Syrian peace talks, held Oct. 30-31 in Astana, Kazakhstan, failed to produce meaningful agreements in practical terms. Not only that, but the participants’ final statements give the impression that Moscow is seeking to impose its own resolution of the Syrian conflict — not as a moderator, but as a party seeking the long-term survival of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and securing it new legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.

The Syrian opposition delegation, led by the Free Syrian Army’s Ahmad Berri and represented by such factions as Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, the Sultan Murad Brigade and others, insisted that Assad comply with the cease-fire, especially in Eastern Ghouta; free prisoners of war and withdraw pro-Iranian Shiite militias from Syrian territory.

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