Fresh round of Syria talks begins in Kazakhstan

Astana (Kazakhstan), Feb 16 (IANS) Syrian rebel and government representatives met in Kazakhstan on Thursday for a fresh round of peace talks under the auspices of Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The Astana-2 talks sought the creation of a multi-party taskforce to monitor and further reinforce the fragile ceasefire implemented in Syria at the end of December 2016, Efe news reported.

“Main consideration is given to the issue on the provision to form a task-force, which will monitor the ceasefire,” said the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Asia and Africa Department head, Aidarbek Tumatov.

The negotiators were expected to produce a document outlining an agreement upon the conclusion of the closed-door consultations.

Nine opposition groups were taking part in the meeting, including the Free Syrian Army and Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), two highly influential and powerful rebel factions.

Russia, Iran and Turkey, the international guarantors of the ceasefire, have each drawn up numerous proposals that were to be discussed in the cross-party talks.

One such measure that could be introduced to safeguard the ceasefire is the use of sanctions on any party caught violating the cessation in hostilities.