Talks aimed at ending the war in Syria have started in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana without the opposition, leaving little hope for a breakthrough. Syrian opposition groups on March 13 said they would not attend the talks, accusing the Syrian government and its backer Russia of failing to adhere to a cease-fire brokered in December. Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian government envoy, said the absence of the opposition showed that Turkey was breaking its commitments. Ankara supports some Sunni Arab rebel factions seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Reacting to the opposition’s refusal to attend the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the peace process was “hugely complex”.
As Syria peace talks involving the opposition groups and Turkey, Russia, and Iran are scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan on March 14, the U.N.’s Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis Kevin Kennedy, speaking to Daily Sabah, praised Turkey’s efforts regarding the Syrian crisis, stating that “Without the support of Turkey, we [the U.N.] would be in very difficult circumstances – especially in Syria”. As part of his two-day visit, U.N. official Kennedy met with Turkish officials before traveling to Gaziantep where he visited refugee camps and emphasized that the U.N. has major operations in Turkey. Providing insight regarding his visit, Kennedy stated that he and his team’s main goal is to work and support the neighboring countries in their efforts toward humanitarian works, noting: “We’ve had excellent support from the [Turkish] government here as well as from the people in Turkey. They made a huge difference in these [humanitarian] efforts and I think Turkey should be very proud of that.”