Syrian opposition rejects Russia-sponsored congress

Turks Set Up 2nd Observation Post in Syria Safe Zone

Representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey, the three peace guarantor states participating in the worldwide Syria talks, held a trilateral meeting in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on Monday. However, Russia's move was largely viewed by the global community as a ploy to prop up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Delegations from the Syrian government and armed opposition groups as well as the three guarantor states are present at the talks.

Assad "has confirmed his readiness for.the preparation of a new constitution and the holding of new parliamentary and presidential elections on this basis", Lavrentyev said, adding that Assad's acceptance of such a constitutional reform process is "a very important announcement". Anti-Assad opposition groups, however, have rejected the proposal, insisting that discussions over a political settlement and a new constitution should take place under United Nations auspices.

The same viewpoint was expressed by a Russian lawmaker on Monday who said Russia expects to destroy all "terrorists" in Syria by the end of the year. It is the seventh round of talks in what is referred to as the Astana peace process for Syria.

A senior Russian lawmaker on Monday said Russia's military mandate in Syria could be nearing its end given the latest advancements by pro-government forces in the conflict-ridden country.

The Astana talks - sponsored by Russia, Iran, and Turkey - focus on cease-fire and other battlefield matters. De Mistura's office declined to comment.

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