DAMASCUS, March 13, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Children play in an abandoned building in the southern suburbs of Damascus, Syria, March 12, 2016. The Syrian civil war since March 2011 has made the Middle East country the world's single-largest source of refugees and displaced people, according to UN figures. The long-running conflict has claimed at least 250,000 lives and forced over 2 million children out of school. (Xinhua/Yang Zhen)
by Xinhua writer Zhang Xu
CAIRO, March 13 (Xinhua) -- A hard-won truce spared Syria a chance to solve its crisis without guns, along with the world's hopes for the upcoming talks in Geneva.
Any progress would be a promising step forward for the war-torn country, which has been a global limelight for five years since the uprising against the President Bashar Assad erupted, so far killing over 270,000 people.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Geneva talks are likely on next Monday, and the exact date will be set after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
Meanwhile, he highlighted that the violence in Syria has calmed down by 80-90 percent.
The Syrian opposition Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC) stressed Friday that it will partake in the talks.
The approval was announced days after the HNC gave conflicted stances about whether to attend the second round of the talks.
The previous round last month ended with no tangible results, but intensifying the global efforts to trigger a cessation of hostilities in Syria.
The truce has prevailed in the country for two weeks with no notable violations, paving a path for the peace-pursuing talks in two days.
The major divergence is the HNC's desire to establish a transitional body to rule the country, not a national unity government.
However, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said on Saturday that his government rejects talks about the possible federalization of Syria, stressing the unity of the country.
His remarks came a day after the UN envoy to Syria said that the possibility of federalism for Syria has not been taken off the table for the upcoming peace talks in Geneva.
"We are going to Geneva to make the dialogue a success, and this doesn't rely on us solely, but on the other parties as well," he stressed.
The Gulf Cooperation Council countries have expressed, in a joint statement, their support for a political solution in Syria and the importance of keeping Syria's territories unified.
They also urged the UN Security Council for a process that could impose a more effective cease-fire in Syria.
Expectations for possible breakthroughs have also been expressed in the past week by the countries including Jordan, Oman and Germany.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees, on Thursday stressed his country's constant position supporting a political solution.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Oman and Germany discussed regional issues, believing the truce has helped improve humanitarian situation in Syria and stimulate political talks among the different Syrian parties.
Even competing rivals believed cooperation will lead to the peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, which is sustainable for regional stability.
"Iran and Turkey should work together to terminate terrorism as the common enemy, and to enhance stability in the region," said Iran's President Hassan Rouhani last Saturday while meeting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Tehran and Ankara are supporting different warring sides in Syria, Iran as an ally of President Assad while Turkey backing the opposition groups.
DAMASCUS, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government on Saturday rejected talks of possible federalization and stressed on unity of the country, according to the foreign minister.
"As a Syrian citizen, I say we reject talks about a federal Syria ... Our people will reject any attempt to divide Syria," Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told a press conference in Damascus. Full story
GENEVA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said Wednesday that Syria talks scheduled to start today will take place on a staggered basis, with people involved in UN-backed discussions arriving up until the end of the week so as to start substantive talks by March 14.
"The good thing about proximity talks is that I am in a positon of staggering the talks, the dates, the days, the meeting rooms based on where and how they will be most fruitful. Any type of delay that I may decide to take will be based on how to make them more successful," he explained. Full story
WASHINGTON, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Militants of the Islamic State (IS) had planned to use mustard gas in Iraq and Syria, U.S. media reported on Wednesday, quoting U.S. defense officials.
Defense officials said that an IS detainee who was captured last month in Iraq by U.S. special operations force, revealed this during interrogation.Full Story