Syrian Kurds say Russia has promised they can attend Sochi talks

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (L) speaks with Russia's chief negotiator for Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentyev (R), during the session of Syria peace talks in Astana on Dec. 22, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Syrian Kurds say Russia has promised they can attend Sochi talks

BEIRUT: Russia has promised that the autonomous region controlled by Kurds in northern Syria will be represented at peace talks it is hosting next month, the commander of the main Syrian Kurdish militia was cited as saying on Wednesday.
Moscow has said 155 representatives of the autonomous region will participate, Sipan Hemo, the commander of the YPG, was quoted as saying by official Syrian Kurdish social media channels on Wednesday.
Kurdish groups have not taken part in any round of Syrian peace talks so far despite their control of more than a quarter of Syria. Turkey opposes their involvement in talks.
Moscow backs Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria’s six-year-old civil war while Turkey opposes him.
But Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group affiliated to the Kurdish PKK, which has waged an insurgency in Turkey for decades.
Russia, Iran and Turkey announced the Jan. 29-30 dates for the talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi date after a round of peace talks in Kazakhstan last week, but did not say who would participate.
About 40 Syrian rebel groups, including factions that have taken part in other rounds of peace talks, said on Monday they would refuse to attend the Sochi Congress.
Russia is the most powerful supporter of Assad. Its jets have helped him bring the rebellion against his rule near to an end.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has said that the success of the congress should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the UN-led Geneva talks on ending the war.


Libyan militia declares ‘zero hour’ for capturing Tripoli

Updated 57 min 6 sec ago
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Libyan militia declares ‘zero hour’ for capturing Tripoli

  • The Libyan National Army called on the young people of Tripoli to work with its forces
  • The internationally-recognized government in Tripoli issued a statement saying it had gathered intelligence about possible airstrikes by LNA forces

CAIRO: The self-styled Libyan National Army is declaring “zero hour” in its offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, from the UN-backed government.
The LNA, led by commander Khalifa Haftar, called on the young people of Tripoli to work with its forces, via a post on its Facebook page published early Saturday.
Meanwhile, the internationally-recognized government in Tripoli issued a statement saying it had gathered intelligence about possible airstrikes by LNA forces against key sites in the capital, including the only functioning airport.
The Government of National Accord in Tripoli said Friday it had intelligence suggesting airstrikes against the capital by Haftar’s allies — including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France — were likely.
Libya sank into chaos after Muammar Qaddafi’s 2011 ouster and is now divided between rival administrations.