Speed Reads

Crisis in Syria

Syrian opposition says it will only discuss cease-fire during peace talks

When peace talks begin Monday in the capital of Kazakhstan, the Syrian opposition will only discuss the cease-fire brokered by Turkey and Russia, which leaders say has been primarily violated by Iranian-backed militias supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will not enter into any political discussions and everything revolves over abiding by the cease-fire and the humanitarian dimension of easing the suffering of Syrians under siege and release of detainees and delivery of aid," Yahya al Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition delegation, told Reuters. "The Syrian regime has an interest in diverting attention from these issues. If the Syrian regime thinks our presence in Astana is a surrender by us, this is a delusion."

The peace talks are being orchestrated by Russia and Iran, supporters of the Syrian government, and Turkey, which backs the rebels. Over the last six years of fighting, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed and 11 million have been displaced.