News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Shun Geneva Peace Talks

  • Residents gather at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
  • Civilians and rescuers search under rubble at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
  • A man walks along a damaged street in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • A view shows damaged buildings along a deserted street in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • People carry a man on a stretcher after he was injured by shelling in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters sit together as they rest in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry their weapons and walk in Aleppo's village of Aziza, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • A Kurdish Security Forces vehicle is seen damaged from a suicide bombing in Qamishli, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • People carry the body of a civilian activist killed during what activists said was an ambush, during a funeral in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Nov. 24, 2013.
Images from Syria
The commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army says his group will not participate in a peace conference planned for January in Geneva and intends to pursue its fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad regardless.

General Salim Idriss told Al Jazeera television Tuesday that "conditions are not suitable for running the Geneva 2 talks" and that the FSA "will not stop combat at all during the Geneva conference or after it."

The country's main exiled opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said it has not made a final decision on whether to attend the talks, while again insisting Mr. Assad should play no role in the country's political future.

The United Nations set January 22 as the date for the Geneva conference with the stated goal of forging a transitional government to end the more than 2-year-old conflict that has killed well over 100,000 people and displaced millions more.

Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that, if invited, Iran will participate in the Geneva 2 conference without any preconditions.

"We have said all along that if Iran is invited we will participate without any preconditions. But the point is for us in Iran, finding a resolution to the crisis in Syria constitutes a matter of national importance and it is a national priority for us. So, whether invited or not, we will continue to support a political process in Syria."

Meanwhile, the Syrian government said it would push on with its war against "terrorism" as state media announced 15 people were killed and more than 30 wounded in a suicide attack at a bus station in a Damascus suburb.

Syrian television said all fatalities were civilians but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said six of the dead were soldiers and that two children were also killed in Soumariya, a major hub for transport in and out of the capital.

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​Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it confirmed two new cases of polio in Syria. An outbreak of 15 cases was found in northeastern Syria last month, prompting the largest-ever polio immunization campaign in the region.

The U.N. health agency said the virus has now infected a child in rural Damascus and another in the northern city of Aleppo.

The polio outbreak is the first in Syria since 1999. The WHO has warned of the high risk of the virus spreading because of large population movements in response to the country's ongoing crisis.

The agency is working to vaccinate 20 million children in seven countries and territories in an operation it expects to continue for at least six to eight months.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mrs. Dorothy Burke from: UK
November 26, 2013 9:35 PM
Like these "peace talks" are really going to do anything, when it is the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT that openly funds and runs the FSA. How dumb do you think people are???
In Response

by: Margot Lumley from: Canada
November 27, 2013 8:48 AM
let me give the Arabs here a little advice... do not be like the Iranians who write under false names... its disgusting and undignified... you claim to be a Dr. from somewhere and you write with the logic of an Arab peasant... it just sounds despicable... don't be like the degenerate Iranians, please have some dignity...

by: Dr. Kornlick from: UK
November 26, 2013 6:43 PM
But the CIA funds the FSA, so why should they attend some phony "meeting"?? The whole thing is a SHAM.

by: Anonymous
November 26, 2013 4:01 PM
What you are witnessing in the photos are the damage and destruction by Bashar al Assad. Bashar has used his military planes, helicopters, tanks, and missiles to destroy many residential areas in Syria. He has pushed Syria backwards 30-40years. This is not what the Syrians want whatsoever. Only planes, helicopters, tanks, and missiles can deliver destruction of this magnitude. It is a disgrace to the Syrian Nation what bashar al assad has done. It is a crime. This is why so many Syrians do not want to deal with Bashar whatsoever, as most consider him a criminal. The crimes of bombarding civilian areas, murder, and genocide as well, and that's not even involving the gas he used.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 26, 2013 12:19 PM
When two people are fighting, common sense calls for immediate cessation of strife because it involves loss of lives and injury. Postponing peace deal between Syrian government and rebels until January is a mark of irresponsibility and lack of commitment by those scheduling the talks. How many more lives will be lost and how much more injuries and damage to properties will be uncured? This is not acceptable at all. First it was postponement from one month to another. Now it is a shift for three months. Haba! Who is making this mistake? Someone says UN Humans Rights Commission, another says this, yet another says that. Human lives are wasted while the organizations concerned spend time making plans. Why will the rebels cease fire for the talks if there is no ceasefire for the planning? The FSA's precondition is an untenable one that should make the rest try to eliminate it for the talks to move forward. But in all sincerity, no well meaning individual or organization will continue planning to save lives while watching same lives being wasted daily. Because of lives involved in the daily fracas, let the organizations call for immediate cessation of hostilities, bring the factions together, decide what should be done to bring peace to the country and pursue it. The idea of scheduling peace for a future time is unrealistic and costly on human lives and property. If the factions are not going to be left to sort themselves out, then let the peace process be immediate. Put diplomatic and bureaucratic bottlenecks apart and save lives.

by: Dorathea from: UK
November 26, 2013 11:55 AM
really...? no future...!!! i thought it was the birth of democracy... or as the Arabs have it "Dee Mook Raassy" - like some disgusting stench of Islamic spawn.

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