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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Russia, Turkey, Iran to hold Syria talks in Kazakhstan

The next round of negotiations over the civil war will begin on November 28

Russian President Vladimir Putin, (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepare to enter talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. EPA
Russian President Vladimir Putin, (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepare to enter talks in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. EPA

Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold the next round of talks on Syria's conflict on November 28-29 in the Kazakh capital Astana, Kazakhstan's foreign minister said on Monday.

"The participants plan to discuss the current situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib, creating conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced people, and post-conflict reconstruction," Kairat Abdrakhmanov said.

The meeting will be the 11th in the Astana peace process - set up in early 2017 by Russia and Iran, who support President Bashar Al Assad's regime in Syria, and opposition backer Turkey.

Mr Abdrakhmanov said representatives of Damascus and armed opposition groups would take part, but did not specify what level of officials from Russia, Iran and Turkey would attend.

The Astana process was launched after Russia's military intervention in Syria tipped the balance in the regime's favour. It has gradually eclipsed an earlier UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process.

This month's meeting comes with continued violence threatening plans for a buffer zone around Idlib, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.Russia and Turkey agreed in September to set up the buffer zone to avert a Syrian regime offensive, but extremist groups who hold about 70 per cent of the area have refused to withdraw.

Militants killed 22 regime fighters in an attack on government forces in the north-west of Hama province, near the planned zone, on Friday. The next day the Syrian army shelled areas in northern Hama and southern and eastern Idlib, monitoring groups said.