11th round of Syria peace talks opens in Astana

Tasnim – The 11th round of Syria peace talks, known as the Astana Peace Process, began in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

The new round of talks would address the latest situation in de-escalation zones in Syria’s Idlib, return of refugees, release of prisoners, and formation of a committee that will rewrite Syria’s constitution.

The two-day meeting is being attended by delegations of the Syrian government and the opposition, the Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations (Iran, Russia, Turkey) and international observers – the United Nations and Jordan.

Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev is heading the country’s delegation to the Astana talks, according to the Tass news agency. Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal is leading the Turkish delegation, while the Iranian delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

The 10th round of the Astana Peace Process was held in Sochi, Russia, in July.

During the ninth meeting held on May 14-15, all parties had agreed to maintain the de-escalation zones.

Conflicts erupted in Syria back in 2011, when a small group of opposition forces took up arms against Damascus.

Soon, however, a mix of international terrorists and paid mercenaries mingled with and then largely sidestepped the armed Syrian opposition groups, effectively turning the Arab country into a battlefield for foreign governments opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But the Syrian military, with advisory military help from Iran and Russia — and a Russian aerial bombardment campaign — has retaken control of much of the country, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down.