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Syria's opposition will not attend talks in Geneva unless steps are taken to alleviate the plight of civilians under siege and bombardment.

 

As BBC reports opposition leaders say representatives will not travel to Geneva despite the UN announcing they will begin on Friday.

But UN representative Staffan de Mistura plans to proceed with indirect "proximity" talks with the Syrian government.

More than 250,000 people have died in almost five years of war in Syria.

Despite little sign of a change in that stance, the rise of IS prompted the US and Russia to step up their efforts to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table.

The last talks aimed at ending the conflict broke down in February 2014 after only two rounds, with the UN blaming the government for refusing to discuss an opposition demand for Mr. Assad to step down.

The proximity talks are expected to last for six months, with delegations sitting in separate rooms and UN officials shuttling between them.

Mr. Assad has agreed to send a delegation to Geneva on Friday.

But the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, which was formed after a conference of political and armed factions last month, has declared that its delegation will "certainly" not be there.

After a meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, the committee complained that it had not received convincing answers to its demands to end the air strikes and blockades by government forces.

The head of the committee, Riad Hijab, told al-Arabiya TV: "Tomorrow, we will not be in Geneva.
We could go there but we will not enter the negotiating room if our demands are not met."


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