The Syrian opposition delegation to the Astana talks announced their participation in the 13th round, which will start on Aug. 1, 2019, against the backdrop of massacres in northern Syria being carried out by Russian warplanes.
A military spokesman for the opposition delegation to Astana, Yasser Abdel Raheem, said in a press conference in Afrin on Tuesday: “We will go to Astana to carry with us the suffering of the Syrian people … We follow the command of the Syrian people, and if they wanted us to go, we will bear everything with us and not give up on the prisoners and martyrs.”
Abdel Raheem added: “We will participate in the Astana talks, despite the air bombardment on Idleb province.” He added, “We will go and bring with us a number of demands, including the release of prisoners and stopping the bombardments and the continuing fighting on the fronts.”
Astana talks between the regime and the opposition in Kazakhstan had been set for Aug. 1–2, 2019, amid calls from opposition Syrians to boycott because of the massacres carried out in Idleb and its countryside.
Russian warplanes and Assad regime helicopters have over the past few days bombed cities and towns in the Idleb province, especially Ariha, Khan Sheikhoun, Maarat Nouman, and Kafr Nubl, killing more than 100 civilians and wounding dozens, according to the Syrian Civil Defense.
Coinciding with these air attacks and massacres, Assad’s forces, with Russian support, on Monday recaptured the towns of Tel Malah and al-Jubbayn in the northern Hama countryside, which are considered strategic areas.
The guarantor countries—Turkey, Russia and Iran—failed at Astana 12 to reach a ceasefire for Idleb, and have also failed to reach a solution regarding the formation of the Syrian constitutional committee.
Following the Astana 12 talks in April, Russia and the regime carried out a military campaign manifested as attempts to advance on land combined with unceasing aerial bombardments focused on residential areas and popular markets.
Abdel Raheem said in his press conference that the Assad regime was escalating each time and working to kill civilians to pressure the opposition delegation to not go to the Astana talks.
He said: “We will not allow the regime to travel alone on political tours. There are two battles—the first on the ground, and the second in the political arena. We will defend or rights until the last drop of our blood.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.