Syria peace talks set for January 25-26

The United Nations will host a new round of peace talks on Syria next week in Vienna, a UN statement said on Wednesday, just days before Russia opens a conference on ending the war. The January 25-26 talks will be followed by a peace congress in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on January 29 and 30 aimed at finding a settlement to the nearly seven-year war. The UN said that special envoy Staffan de Mistura “expects that delegations will be coming to Vienna prepared for substantive engagement with him.” It added that “any political initiative by international actors should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the United Nations-facilitated Geneva political process and the full implementation of resolution 2254,” a roadmap for ending the conflict set out in 2015.
Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition group condemned the US-led coalition’s plan to create a 30,000-strong border force on the war-torn country’s northern frontier with Turkey. The alliance fighting the IS group announced on Sunday that it was working with Arab and Kurdish fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish a Border Security Force. The proposed force has been denounced by Damascus, while Turkey — which considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) “terrorists” — has vowed to nip it “in the bud”. — Agencies