The main Syrian opposition bloc has said it will not attend peace talks scheduled to begin in Geneva on Friday, in another setback to diplomatic efforts to end the five-year-long war. The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), an opposition platform created in Saudi Arabia last month, said its delegation would not attend the talks because they had not received convincing answers from the UN to a set of demands for their participation.
Their conditions include a lifting of sieges, a halt to air strikes and the release of wrongfully detained prisoners of conscience. “For certain we will not head to Geneva and there will not be a delegation from the High Negotiations Committee tomorrow in Geneva,” George Sabra, a member of HNC was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency on Thursday. The already delayed talks have been mired in controversy and disagreements over who should attend representing the oppositon.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays, reporting from Geneva, said: “The Syrian talks process is going to start without one of the main delegations present. “Diplomats say the High Negotiations Committee based in Riyadh faces a difficult decision but I think in the end they will come here in a few days’ time,” he added.