Syrian Opposition Rules Out Indirect Talks Before Goodwill Shown

BEIRUT (Reuters) —

A senior Syrian opposition official on Friday ruled out even indirect peace talks with the government before a halt to Russian air strikes and the lifting of government blockades on populated areas.

George Sabra, deputy head of the opposition delegation, also said the opposition council he represents was due to discuss diplomatic efforts with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday.

Kerry on Thursday insisted the talks would go ahead in Geneva next week, though he said they would not be face-to-face. The Syrian government, which is backed by Russia, has said it is ready to attend.

“The form of the talks does not concern us, but the conditions must be appropriate for the negotiations,” Sabra told Reuters. Asked if that meant the opposition would not attend the kind of indirect talks mentioned by Kerry, he said “yes.”

“So far, the obstacles in front of the conference have yet to be removed. There must be a halt to the bombardment of civilians by Russian planes, and sieges of blockaded areas must be lifted,” he said by telephone.

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