7th round of Syria talks in Astana to begin on Monday



The seventh round of peace talks aimed at ending the Syria conflict will begin on Monday in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana.

The talks, which will focus on strengthening the cease-fire that came into effect on Dec. 30, have been brokered by Turkey, which backs the opposition, and Russia and Iran, who support Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The two-day meeting would also address the release of captives and hostages, and humanitarian action on mines, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov said on Oct. 6.

The Turkish delegation will be chaired by Deputy Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Sedat Onal, while Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev will lead Russian team and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari will head his country’s delegation, Abdrakhmanov said on Oct 27.

Representatives of the Syrian regime, armed opposition groups, as well as delegations from the UN, Jordan and the U.S. will attend the talks, he confirmed.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.