Iranian Envoy Holds Diplomatic Sessions on Syria in Russia Sochi

A Turkish Forces vehicles is driven past people watching at the Oncupinar border crossing with Syria known as Bab al Salameh in Arabic in the outskirts of the town of Kilis Monday Jan. 29 2018. Renewed clashes erupted on Monday on a strategic hillto

The Russian president's special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, said that a total of 11 members of the Syrian opposition's Riyadh group took part in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on special invitations.

A statement laying down basic principles of the future Syrian state and government was also passed in Sochi, Lavrov said.

"To that end we agreed to form a constitutional committee comprising the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation along with wide-represented opposition delegation for drafting of a constitutional reform as a contribution to the political settlement under United Nations auspices in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2254", the statement said.

The conference suffered a further setback last morning when rebel representatives, who had flown in from Turkey the previous night, said they would not go further than Sochi airport because the conference logo featured only regime flags.

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Delegates at a Syrian peace conference in Sochi have called for respect for the country's territorial integrity and said the Syrian people alone should decide the shape of their government.

Neil Hauer, an independent analyst focused on Russian Federation and Syria who was in Sochi for the congress, told AFP bringing the Kurds to their first major worldwide Syria summit would have been one of Moscow's primary goals. Two-thirds will be chosen from supporters of Assad's government and one-third from the opposition. They included Syrian government representatives backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad backed by Turkey.

Authorities from Syria's Kurdish autonomous region said at the weekend they would also boycott the event because of the ongoing Turkish offensive on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

Russia's Tass news agency on Tuesday cited the forum's organising committee as saying that 1,511 out of more than 1,600 invited delegates arrived in Sochi for the event from Syria, Geneva, Cairo, Moscow and Ankara.

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