Rebel fracturing threatens new round of Syria talks

WASHINGTON – Negotiations toward a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war are still scheduled to begin next week, foreign ministers said in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, despite continued threats from rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad to boycott the event.
Russia and the United States have hoped that the talks, set for January 25, would bring together Assad officials and rebel leadership around the same table. But even without the opposition represented, the talks will proceed, Moscow said.
“What we are trying to achieve is to either expand the ‘Riyadh’ delegation to include the moderate opposition or to have a separate opposition delegation,” a Russian diplomat said. “They will negotiate with the government.”
In recent weeks, US Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed notes of optimism, touting “progress” in the negotiations since the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and several other states agreed to a joint statement outlining a peace process for the war-torn state.