Prisoners' release tops Syria talks as al-Qaeda seeks unity

Prisoners' release tops Syria talks as al-Qaeda seeks unity
Sun Jan 26, 2014 17:29:14

Representatives of Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition have held talks for the second straight day in the Swiss city of Geneva, as al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting at the side of the opposition seek more alliance to stop their infighting.

The talks resumed on Sunday with UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, acting as a go-between.

Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told reporters that the Syrian delegation seeks to make arrangement for stopping terrorism in the Arab country and reconstructing it.

Sunday’s negotiations, centered on the release of prisoners, come after the two sides sat together in the same room for the first time on Saturday and held two face-to-face meetings which according to Brahimi did not achieve much.

The UN envoy said Saturday’s second meeting focused on humanitarian affairs in the Arab country.

Brahimi added that he hoped a deal could be reached on sending a convoy carrying humanitarian aid on Sunday or Monday to Homs.

"If we achieve success on Homs we hope that this will be the beginning," he said.

The Geneva II conference on Syria kicked off in the Swiss town of Montreux on January 22, as the fighting goes on the ground in Syria with no sign of a possible stop.

Al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting at the side of the opposition are seeking to unite after months of deadly clashes, especially the two main groups of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front.

According to a report by Arabic language al-Hadath news, the leader of al-Nusra Front Abu-Mohammad al-Jolani has agreed with a peace plan, offered by a Saudi Salafist leader, in order to end fighting between al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

Both groups entered the war in Syria, pledging loyalty to al-Qaeda and fighting for the opposition.

On Thursday Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri called on his followers to stop fighting each other and set up a judicial committee to sort out their differences.

A British defense study published last September showed that about 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, were fighting in Syria against the government and people.

According to the study, some 10,000 militants were fighting for groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the rest fight for different militant groups.

The United Nations says more than four million Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict in the country that has displaced millions so far.


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