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Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold next round of Astana talks with Syrian factions

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Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold next round of Astana talks with Syrian factions

Astana Talks
Astana Talks
Photo: File/AFP

Representatives from Russia, Turkey and Iran will gather in Astana, Kazakhstan, today for their eleventh round of Syrian peace talks.

Today’s deliberations come after a chlorine gas attack was allegedly launched on government-held Aleppo over the weekend, injuring some 100 people. Russia retaliated with airstrikes on Idlib, but details of the incident are scarce.

The primary armed opposition group, Syrian Liberation Front, has claimed it lacks the capability to produce and use chemical weapons, suggesting the attack may have come from Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda affiliate. It is also possible that the Syrian government fabricated the attack to persuade its Russian and Iranian allies to support an assault on the region.

Regardless, the incident has threatened a September ceasefire agreement between Russia and Turkey aimed at preventing an assault on Idlib. Turkey, which would suffer most from the humanitarian fallout of such a campaign, will approach today’s meeting needing to convince Russia to honour the ceasefire. Incidents like the past weekend’s will test Moscow’s resolve, suggesting the longer this standoff over Idlib lasts, the likelier it is that the conflict will not reach a peaceful conclusion.

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