Tag Archives: Syrian

Dozens die in strikes on Syrian college district, other areas

BEIRUT Intense air and missile strikes on a school district and other areas in insurgent-held Damascus suburbs killed dozens of men and women on Sunday, like children, a monitoring group and neighborhood rescue workers stated.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said unidentified war planes hit the town of Douma, ten miles (15 km) northeast of the capital, and surface-to-surface missiles fired by the Syrian army also hit the surrounding places, including Eastern Ghouta.

The strikes killed at least two kids and a school principal, it stated.

Syrian Civil Defence, a humanitarian rescue group that operates in rebel-held places, put the death toll at 35 and mentioned numerous other individuals were wounded. It posted a photo of a dead child with a serious wound to its head.

Issam al-Rayyes, spokesman for the Southern Front of the insurgent Cost-free Syrian Army, said as many as 60 people had been killed in strikes on the Douma area which began early on Sunday.

Numerous of Douma’s residents have fled the nearly five-year conflict, moving to nearby rural regions. Syria’s civil war, which started as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, has killed a lot more than 250,000 folks and driven more than 10 million from their homes.

The areas have been below heavy bombardment in current months. The Syrian army has stated its strikes target insurgents that have launched attacks on government-held locations.

The Observatory, which has gathered info from a network of contacts on the ground considering that the start off of the conflict in 2011, mentioned at least 40 mortar bombs fired by insurgents in the eastern suburbs hit Damascus on Sunday, killing at least one particular child and wounding many.

State news agency SANA stated 3 civilians had been killed and at least 30 wounded in mortar attacks targeting residential neighborhoods of Damascus. Most of the victims had been school students, it stated, citing its reporter in the region.

Assad stated on Friday he would not negotiate with armed groups, appearing to scupper peace talks that Russia and the United States hope to bring about next month.

Washington helped broker an agreement reached on Thursday by much more than 100 members of Syria’s opposition parties and far more than a dozen rebel fighting groups – to send a joint group to meet the government below U.N. auspices next month.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Islamic State can make fake Syrian passports: U.S. report

WASHINGTON A U.S. government agency report has warned that Islamic State has the potential to develop fake Syrian passports, a federal official confirmed on Friday.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the contents of a story by CNN on Friday about the report, but declined to offer a copy of the report.

The report says Islamic State has access to Syrian government passport printing machines and blank passports, raising the possibility the travel documents could be faked, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement supply. (cnn.it/1Rf6lE1)

The CNN supply added that there was also concern that because the militant group had access to biographical and fingerprint information on Syrian citizens, there was also a possibility of identity theft.

ABC News, which initial reported the story on Thursday, stated the report was released to law enforcement by the Homeland Safety Investigations agency last week and raised the possibility that militants could use the documents to travel to the United States. (abcn.ws/1IKPl5I)

“Because far more than 17 months [have] passed given that Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour fell to ISIS, it is attainable that men and women from Syria with passports ‘issued’ in these ISIS-controlled cities or who had passport blanks, may have traveled to the U.S.,” ABC News quoted the report as saying.

State Division spokesman John Kirby, asked at a briefing on Friday about the ABC report, replied: “We have been conscious of reports, not just in the press, that they might have obtained this capability.”

FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday: “The intelligence community is concerned that they [Islamic State] have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting.”

(Reporting by Eric Walsh Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Putin says Russia backs Free of charge Syrian Army alongside Assad troops

MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia supports the opposition Cost-free Syrian Army, providing it with air assistance, arms and ammunition in joint operations with Syrian troops against Islamist militants.

His statement appeared to be the first time Moscow mentioned it was really supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s opponents in the fight against Islamic State forces. Putin said last month the Russian air force had hit a number of “terrorist” targets offered by the Free Syrian Army.

Western and Arab states carrying out air strikes against Islamic State for a lot more than a year say that Russian jets have primarily hit other rebel forces in the west of Syria.

“The function of our aviation group assists in uniting the efforts of government troops and the Totally free Syrian Army,” Putin told an annual meeting at the defense ministry.

“Now several of its units numbering more than 5,000 troops are engaged in offensive actions against terrorists, alongside normal forces, in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Raqqa,” he mentioned, referring to the Totally free Syrian Army.

“We support it from the air, as effectively as the Syrian army, we help them with weapons, ammunition and offer material support.”

Putin said strikes by Russia’s air force and navy had inflicted heavy damage on the infrastructure of Islamic State, which controls large areas of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu mentioned, however, that the influence of Islamic State was escalating in Syria, where militants handle about 70 % of the country.

The number of IS fighters in Iraq and Syria totals about 60,000, Shoigu mentioned, and there is a threat of violence spilling more than into post-Soviet Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Speaking to his generals, Putin issued a veiled warning to Turkey, whose downing of a Russian bomber jet near the Syrian-Turkish border final month sent bilateral relations to a freezing point and led Moscow to impose economic sanctions to Istanbul.

“I want to warn those who may possibly again attempt to stage provocations against our troops,” he stated.

“I order you to act in an very tough way. Any targets threatening Russia’s (military) group or our land infrastructure must be immediately destroyed,” Putin told the generals.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier on Friday called on Russia for calm, but said Turkey’s patience is not unlimited.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov Further reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Vladimir Soldatkin Editing by Christian Lowe and Tom Heneghan)

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Syrian Kurdish YPG spokesman says 50-60 killed in truck bomb attack

BEIRUT A spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia stated the death toll from a triple truck bomb attack in a town in northeastern Syria on Friday had risen to 50 to 60 people, with much more than 80 others wounded.

One of the blasts occurred outside a hospital, an additional at a marketplace and the third in a residential area in the YPG-controlled town of Tel Tamer, Redur Xelil mentioned by means of Web messaging service.

A statement on the website of Kurdish security force Asayish blamed the attack on Islamic State. The town is in the mostly Kurdish-controlled province of Hasaka.

(Reporting by Tom Perry and John Davison Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Initial planeload of Syrian refugees arrives in Canada

TORONTO Soon after months of promises and weeks of preparation, the very first Canadian government planeload of Syrian refugees landed in Toronto on Thursday, aboard a military aircraft met by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau was elected to a surprise majority in October promising to accept much more refugees much more swiftly than the previous Conservative government.

“This is a wonderful evening, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the planet how to open our hearts and welcome in folks who are fleeing extraordinarily tough situations,” Trudeau told airport workers and volunteers standing by to meet the refugees.

Trudeau’s Liberal government scaled back the number of Syrian migrants it will accept by year end soon after the attacks in Paris sparked concern that the election guarantee to bring in 25,000 by Dec. 31 would not allow sufficient time for security checks.

The plane carrying 163 Syrian refugees touched down in Toronto just ahead of midnight on Thursday and will be followed by a second military airlift to Montreal on Saturday. Trudeau has mentioned ten,000 will be resettled by the end of the year and a additional 15,000 by the end of February.

As Trudeau met the military aircraft amid tight security at a special terminal, privately sponsored Syrian refugees were arriving on commercial flights at Toronto’s principal terminal, greeted by sponsors and ordinary Canadians who had come to the airport to welcome the a lot-anticipated newcomers.

“They are extremely tired, but they are content and hopeful,” said Soriya Dasir, a worker with Abraham Festival, a group that sponsored a single mother and three young children who had been living in a camp in Jordan for two years, as she escorted them previous waiting media.

Toronto’s airport authority urged Canadians not to come to the airport to greet the refugees or drop off donations, saying: “We’re so proud that our community wants to aid, but such a response would be very overwhelming for those arriving.”

The request did not deter Shai Reef, 20, who held up a sign that study: “Welcome to Canada” in Arabic.

“I am right here to show my solidarity for and assistance of the Syrian men and women going by means of genocide in Syria,” Reef said. “As Jews, we were also locked out, I know what it feels like.”

Toronto’s mayor tweeted a welcome, even though the Toronto Star, the country’s largest newspaper, covered its front page with a “Welcome to Canada” banner headline in English and Arabic, along with an report explaining Canadian climate, ice hockey and slang.

The reception in Canada contrasted sharply with that of the neighboring United States, where fear of Syrian refugees following the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks spurred opposition to allowing them entry. Some U.S. governors said their states would not accept Syrian refugees.

With security concerns, immigration paperwork and the flight’s late-evening arrival, refugees on the military aircraft had been to be put up at a nearby hotel for the evening before meeting their sponsors and resettlement agencies on Friday.

(Additional reporting and writing by Andrea Hopkins in Toronto and David Ljunngren in Ottawa Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Very first planeload of Syrian refugees headed to Canada

TORONTO Following months of promises and weeks of preparation, the first planeload of Syrian refugees was headed to Canada on Thursday, aboard a military plane to be met at Toronto’s airport by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau’s newly elected Liberal government scaled back the quantity of Syrian migrants it will accept by year end right after the attacks in Paris sparked concern that bringing in 25,000 by Dec. 31 – an election promise – would not enable adequate time for safety checks.

Some 300 Syrian refugees were expected to arrive on two military flights, the initial arriving in Toronto on Thursday and the second in Montreal on Saturday. Trudeau has stated ten,000 will be resettled by the finish of the year and a additional 15,000 by the end of February.

Toronto’s mayor tweeted a welcome, while the Toronto Star, the nation’s biggest newspaper, covered its front page with a “Welcome to Canada” banner headline in English and Arabic, along with an report explaining Canadian climate, ice hockey and quirky nearby slang.

The Syrians’ reception in Canada contrasted sharply with that of the neighboring United States, where worry of Syrian refugees following the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks spurred opposition to enabling them in. Some U.S. governors mentioned their states would not accept Syrian refugees.

Canadian refugee groups and private sponsors said they have been excited and scrambling to prepare for the arrival of the households, who have been chosen from camps in Lebanon and Jordan following fleeing Syria’s four-year-old civil war.

“Every person is excited. We will be prepared,” stated Lorig Garboushian-Katrjian, a coordinator at the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto, which has helped sponsor 71 refugees arriving on the very first plane.

With security issues, immigration paperwork and the flight’s late-evening arrival, most sponsors and family members will not be capable to meet the refugees at the airport, but the government has arranged for the refugees to keep overnight at nearby hotels, Garboushian-Katrjian stated.

She mentioned she had spoken to some of the families just before they boarded the plane and said no 1 minds the extra evening in a hotel.

“They mentioned they are OK, no issue, one particular far more day, it will not count compared to the 3 or 4 years that have passed,” she stated in a telephone interview. “It is the final destination for them to commence a new life.”

Although one particular provincial premier and some opposition politicians initially stated Trudeau was accepting as well many refugees too speedily, his decision to push back the timeline by two months silenced much of the criticism.

Trudeau was elected to a surprise majority in October promising to accept more refugees far more rapidly than the preceding Conservative government.

(Further reporting and writing by Andrea Hopkins in Toronto and David Ljunngren in Ottawa Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Syrian opposition seeks to close ranks as army gains on ground

RIYADH Syria’s fragmented opposition and rebel groups sought common ground on Wednesday ahead of planned negotiations to finish a conflict which has devastated the country and drawn forces from Cold War and Middle East rivals into ever deeper combat operations.

The talks in Saudi Arabia mark the most ambitious attempt but to unify President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies around a joint political platform – seen as a essential very first step to locating a peaceful finish to four years of war and battling Islamic State.

The powerful Kurdish YPG is among numerous groups excluded from the talks and those there are deeply divided more than central concerns like how to handle a transition from Assad and the function Islam must play in Syria.

But two delegates identified solace in what they described as a lack of any main rupture so far amongst those present.

“It went properly. Very good. We discussed many things. Tomorrow we will go over a document of basic principles,” said one particular opposition member. The groups hoped to total the talks on Thursday, but they may continue into Friday, he said.

A member of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said there had been broad agreement: “We discussed the main problems relating to the dialogue, the transition and all modalities related to the political method. Most of them agreed.”

Much more than 100 delegates have been invited to the Riyadh meeting, such as from the Islamist insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham, founded by militants with al Qaeda hyperlinks, as well as opposition figures who have been primarily based in government-controlled Damascus.

Whilst most agree on a call for Assad to go, despite signs that some Western backers have softened their demands right after recognizing that military force has failed to topple the president, rifts in opposition ranks are still clear.

Prior to the talks opened on Wednesday, Ahrar al-Sham complained that some delegates have been “closer to … the regime” than the opposition. 1 activist in exile declined to attend alongside these who “assistance an Islamic emirate” in Syria.

International efforts to resolve the conflict which has killed 250,000 folks and displaced 12 million have been lent added urgency by a wave of deadly attacks across the planet claimed by the Iraq- and Syria-primarily based Islamic State and by an escalating refugee flow which has caused a crisis in Europe.

Main powers agreed in Vienna last month to revive diplomatic efforts to end the war, calling for peace talks to begin by January 1.

That prompted Saudi Arabia, which projects itself as a leader of the Middle East’s Sunni Muslims, to summon the mainly Sunni opposition and rebel groups. The move angered rival Shi’ite Iran which stated the initiative threatened to harm the Vienna process.

The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, whose country is also a key supporter of the Syrian rebels, mentioned the Riyadh meeting represented a “golden opportunity (for the Syrian opposition) to unify their ranks and coordinate their steps beyond setting up a negotiating group”.

ARMY ADVANCES

Intensified diplomacy has been accompanied by higher military intervention by foreign powers.

Russia has carried out 10 weeks of air strikes, halting rebel gains, and Iran has also offered Assad military support and said ousting Assad would be a “red line” for Tehran.

Western powers have stepped up attacks on Islamic State although Saudi Arabia, which backs the rebels, says an expanded military selection remains open.

Last month NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian plane it said flew into its air space, highlighting the danger that Syria’s multi-faceted war could spark yet wider conflict.

Russia’s air campaign has helped the Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah fighters and the Iranian military, to halt a rebel advance more than the summer which had threatened Assad’s manage more than the main population centers in western Syria.

Russian air strikes, even though containing rebel advances, have not decisively tipped the war in Assad’s favor.

On Wednesday, scores of people left the final region held by insurgents in the city of Homs, a center of the uprising against Assad which broke out in March 2011. About 750 men and women are anticipated to leave the Waer district below a regional truce among the government and rebels.

Further north, Syrian government troops backed by Iranian forces have edged closer to a significant rebel-controlled highway near Aleppo. They appeared to be attempting to cut the principal Aleppo-Damascus highway that fighters use to transport supplies from rebel-held Idlib province to the north.

For Saudi Arabia, which has been fighting considering that March in neighboring Yemen, Syria has been a secondary battlefield in its regional struggle for influence with Iran. But the kingdom nonetheless views the Syrian civil war as central to that rivalry.

Ahrar al-Sham mentioned the Riyadh meeting, which opened at a luxury hotel amid high safety, must stand by demands like “the complete cleansing of the Russian-Iranian occupation of Syrian land, and the sectarian militias which support it”.

“OVERTHROW OF ASSAD”

It known as for the “overthrow of the Assad regime with all its pillars and symbols” and placing its members on trial.

Syrian security and military institutions should also be dissolved it stated, putting it at odds with globe powers which agreed in Vienna final month that state institutions be kept intact in any transition of power.

Other rebel factions at the Saudi talks contain the strong Islamist force Islam Army, and a dozen groups which describe themselves as elements of the Cost-free Syrian Army (FSA).

The head of one particular FSA armed group mentioned the 1st day of talks was focused on discussing opposition demands and drafting a concluding statement. 

“The principles are the unity of Syrian land, the civilian nature of the state, and the unity of the Syrian people,” he said. Ahrar al-Sham stated Syria’s “Islamic identity” must be maintained.

Hadi al-Bahra, a senior member of the opposition National Coalition, mentioned there was a optimistic atmosphere and “no differences amongst the delegates” so far. “Everyone senses the value and sensitivity of this stage”, he tweeted.

Despite the fact that scores of men and women have been asked to attend, the Kurdish administration that runs swathes of north Syria was not invited.

Rebels in western Syria do not trust the principal Kurdish militia, the YPG, due to the fact they say it cooperates with Damascus rather than fighting it.

Delegates stated there was some Kurdish representation, but a Western diplomat who follows Syria stated this week the meeting had not brought together as several Syrian factions as hoped.

“It is not all-encompassing. It is not the consolidated, general opposition platform,” the diplomat stated.

(Further reporting by Tom Perry and Sylvia Westall in Beirut Writing by Dominic Evans, editing by Sami Aboudi, Peter Millership and Philippa Fletcher)

Agen Sabung Ayam

Aid reaches Syrian rebel-held location of Homs: Syrian Observatory

BEIRUT Humanitarian aid has reached a besieged rebel-held region in the central Syrian city of Homs, part of a regional ceasefire deal that is to include the withdrawal of opposition fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In a delivery presided over by the United Nations, food and health-related supplies entered the Waer district of the city on Thursday, the Britain-based monitoring group stated.

It was a sign that the deal, which would be the second nearby ceasefire agreement to be reached in Syria in recent months, was beginning to be implemented.

Syrian government officials stated on Tuesday they had agreed that opposition fighters could withdraw from the final insurgent-held region of Homs with their weapons as part of the agreement.

Sources told Reuters that Syrian and United Nations officials had been meeting in Homs, a significant battleground on Syria’s north-south highway, to try to finalize the deal following a ceasefire in Waer.

One more ceasefire agreement, backed by Iran and Turkey and with U.N. help, was reached in September in between pro-government forces and insurgents around a town close to the Lebanese border and two villages in northwest Syria. That ceasefire seems to be holding regardless of sporadic exchanges of fire.

But the much more than four-year-old war shows little sign of slowing across the rest of the country as heavy fighting continues and all the world’s significant powers except China are all now militarily involved.

(Reporting by John Davison Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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France’s Hollande to go to aircraft carrier off Syrian coast

PARIS French President Francois Hollande will pay a visit to on Friday military personnel on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off the Syrian coast, his workplace mentioned in a statement.

“He will meet the military involved in intensifying the battle against Daesh (Islamic State) in Syria and Iraq,” the statement mentioned.

The carrier, which has 38 warplanes on board, was deployed to the east Mediterranean just days after Islamic State claimed duty for attacks in Paris that killed 130 individuals on Nov. 13.

The two-hour check out, scheduled to start at 1400 GMT (0900 ET), comes just two days prior to the very first round of regional elections in which Hollande’s ruling Socialist party is anticipated to be defeated by the conservatives and far-proper parties.

Hollande’s recognition rose to its highest level in three years a poll showed on Tuesday, with voters backing his robust handling of the post-attack period.

France was the initial country to join US-led air strikes in Iraq and because the Paris attacks it has stepped up its aerial bombing campaign of Islamic State in Syria, focusing particularly on its stronghold in Raqqa and oil-associated targets.

Over the last week, fighter jets have struck a lot more than 20 occasions in Iraq supporting neighborhood troop advancements in locations near Baiji, Sinjar and about the city of Ramadi, the French army stated on Wednesday.

The carrier holds some 1,900 personnel and is accompanied by an attack submarine, numerous frigates, refueling ships, as effectively as fighter jets and surveillance aircraft.

(Reporting by John Irish Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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Uniting Syrian rebels a large test for Saudi regional ambitions

RIYADH Saudi Arabia’s effort to unite Syrian rebels in Riyadh next week will be a massive test of its regional ambitions soon after years of bickering amongst opposition groups and severe misgivings about the initiative amongst major powers with a stake in the war.

Since King Salman took energy in January, Riyadh has attempted to position itself as leader of the Middle East’s Sunni Muslims, most of whom want to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled and the influence of his Shi’ite ally, Iran, curbed.

Riyadh now sees an opportunity to shape the war in Syria right after the Russian intervention, the European refugee crisis and the Paris attacks reawakened international engagement with the conflict and the threat posed by Islamic State.

“This conference is meant to change the predicament on the ground,” mentioned a senior Western diplomat in the Gulf, pointing to the want to strengthen what he referred to as the “moderate opposition” in Syria, which opposes both Assad and Islamic State.

Subsequent week’s gathering will be attended by around 65 members of the political and armed opposition, which includes about 15 representatives from armed groups. Of the two most strong armed groups, Islamic State has not been invited and the al Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front is also not expected.

Even so, with Iran decrying the meeting as dangerous to peace prospects, Turkey alarmed by the likely presence of Kurds, and Western nations concerned by the function that Islamists will play, Saudi Arabia might struggle to obtain that.

For Saudi Arabia, Syria has been secondary to Yemen this year as the major cockpit in an overarching struggle for regional influence with Iran, but the ruling Al Saud continue to regard the Syrian civil war as the rivalry’s pivotal battlefield.

The war pits the Syrian army and allied militias including Lebanese Hezbollah fighters backed by Iran and Russia, against an array of competing rebel and jihadi fighters, who incorporate Arabs and Kurds.

The rebel splits on the ground have been exacerbated by rival agendas of their supporters in the Gulf states, Turkey and Western nations. Syria’s political opposition in exile also has tiny influence inside the country, further complicating efforts to type a united front against Assad.

FLAWED Method

While the rebels’ external backers are united in describing Islamic State as a bitter enemy, Western countries see it as the largest and most urgent threat, even though Turkey and the Gulf states continue to regard Assad as the underlying dilemma.

Despite the fact that Saudi Arabia final year helped bring with each other a group of Arab nations to assistance U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State, its military role in the coalition was mainly symbolic.

While it has continued flying some missions against the group this year, say diplomats, its part has been significantly decreased as a outcome each of unease with the coalition’s method and Riyadh’s overwhelming military concentrate on the war in Yemen.

The most current Saudi air strikes in Syria that the diplomat and a Saudi insider could don’t forget came more than a month ago, they stated. A second senior Western diplomat in the Gulf stated Saudi Arabia was nonetheless flying some missions.

Now Riyadh wants to concentrate on forging from the Syrian opposition a coherent physique that can function as a significant interlocutor, and dismiss the argument made by Assad, Iran and Russia that it is dominated by militants.

Gaining some kind of agreement at the meeting in between a wide selection of opposition groups will not be the only dilemma, nonetheless. A bigger task may possibly be persuading Riyadh’s allies to accept any outcome from the talks.

“Just to be organizing this is a large deal. There has been a lot of hedging over who to invite. It really is an evolving discussion between the Saudis, the U.S., the Turks and other individuals. There are lots of concerns with numerous groups,” mentioned the second senior Western diplomat.

Turkey has clear factors for concern. Ankara faces not only the threat from Islamic State, but also the prospect of Assad, shielded by Russia and Iran, holding on to power, while Kurdish rebels backed by the United States make territorial gains.

It has warned each the United States and Russia that it will not tolerate any such gains by the Washington-backed Kurdish YPG militia close to its frontiers in north-western Syria and privately deprecates Saudi efforts to contain the group.

Western nations fret about potent Islamist groups like Ahrar al-Sham, which are ideologically similar to al Qaeda but which Turkey and Gulf states view as moderate since they voice no ambitions to wage a wider regional jihad.

Renewed tensions in between Turkey and Russia after the shooting down of a Russian jet present another obstacle to reaching a broader agreement on Syria, but Riyadh nonetheless regards engagement with Moscow as important.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has visited Russia twice this year, and according to both Western diplomats and Gulf diplomats, still thinks there is a possibility that Moscow will at some point drop its assistance for Assad.

According to Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi security professional with close ties to Riyadh’s Interior Ministry, it was simply because of Russia that Riyadh agreed to host the meeting, functioning to deliver a group that can negotiate opposite Assad.

“They understand the complexity of their job. How tough it will be to come up with some thing tangible,” he stated. “So they will not aim to create a centralized leadership that reflects who controls the ground due to the fact this will be impossible. They will aim to create a centralized leadership that has reasonable, rational thinking and can sit at the table.”

(Further reporting by Yara Bayoumy in Dubai and John Irish in Paris Editing by Giles Elgood)

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