New round of talks is going to be held today in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The four delegations from Damascus, Russia, Turkey and Iran are now in Astana preparing for the talks and discussing the current situation on the sidelines of the meeting. The UN expert delegation is led by Milos Strugar and is also arrived. Other delegations such as the representatives of the Syrian armed opposition including ‘the Southern Front’, may come later on Tuesday.
The Southern Front is a Syrian rebel alliance consisting of 58 or 54 Syrian opposition factions, established on 13 February 2014 in southern Syria. By June 2015, Southern Front controlled about 70 percent of Daraa Governorate, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Claims have been made by the Southern Front itself and by media in Britain, Germany and the United Arab Emirates that the Southern Front is being funded by the U.S. and its allies, possibly through a U.S. led Military Operations Center (MOC) based in Amman, Jordan. Since its formation, rebels said, field operation rooms have been added inside Syria to improve coordination between units. The coalition is described by Western officials as the best organized of the mainstream opposition”. The constituent groups range from secularist groups to moderate religious groups, and the Southern front has been described as a “non-hardline Islamist rebel group” that rejects extremism.
There are quite a few documents that need to be discussed and will contribute to consolidating the ceasefire. They require very careful, detailed discussion and work.
Astana was originally created as a mechanism for trilateral cooperation.
The first round of Astana talks on Syria brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran were held on January 23-24 and resulted in a Moscow-Tehran-Ankara agreement on the establishment of a trilateral mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria.
The second round of the Astana talks took place on February 15-16, with the participants agreeing to set up a ceasefire monitoring group, encompassing Iran, Russia and Turkey, that would report to the United Nations.