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Opposition leader sees warning in Russian cease-fire violations in Syria

The Syrian Opposition Coalition's president blames Russia for the failure of political process.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (on screen) addresses via video link the opening session of the international conference on the return of refugees held in Damascus on November 11, 2020. - Syria's government kicked off a two-day Russia-backed conference in Damascus towards facilitating the return of millions of Syrian refugees to the war-torn country, despite reservations within the international community. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP) (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images)

ISTANBUL — As the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) met Nov. 11 in the opposition-held northern Syrian city of Azaz and fighters in Idlib prepared for an expected attack, a conference somewhat perplexingly on the return of refugees to the country still at war kicked off in Damascus.

Iran, China, Lebanon and Oman all took part in the Russian-planned conference in the Syrian capital. The United Arab Emirates, which had initially said it would attend, did not. The European Union refused, noting that the “limited returns that have taken place” have faced “forced conscription, indiscriminate detention, forced disappearances, torture, physical and sexual violence” and other issues. 

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