Syrian opposition to attend Geneva II peace conference

Istanbul, Jan 19: Syria’s main opposition bloc announced here it would attend the Geneva II peace conference after it held a secret vote on its participation Saturday.

The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said that 58 out of the 75 members voted in favour of the bloc’s presence at the peace talks, 14 voted against it, two abstained and one cast a blank ballot, Xinhua reported.

“This was the toughest decision. The absolute majority voted in favour of going to Geneva and being part of the sides on the negotiating table,” Louay Safi, a SNC spokesperson said during a press conference.

Three rebel groups fighting inside Syria, Ajnad Al- Sham, the army of Al-Mujahedeen, and the front of Syria’s revolutionaries, agreed to go to the Geneva II conference and gave their full support to the Syrian opposition, he said.

“We are very glad to hear about their support. They will definitely be part of the negotiations and they all appreciate a political solution,” Safi said.

SNC President Ahmad Al-Jarba said: “Today we enter another phase of the revolution…”

He said the coalition decided to go to Geneva to achieve the demands of the Syrian people. “We go to Geneva very comfortably because the Syrian people support us. We want our voices to be heard.”

The UN-backed peace conference, slated to start Jan 22 in Switzerland, will bring together representatives from both the government and the Western-backed political opposition for the first time since their conflict began almost three years ago.

IANS