The western-backed Syrian opposition coalition has agreed to participate in peace talks with the Syrian government aimed at a political transition to end the country’s more than two and a half year old civil war, according to a statement by the Syrian National Coalition on Monday.
The statement outlined conditions that must be met to ensure the rebel groups’ participation, namely a demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “will have no role in the transitional period and the future of Syria.”
The rebel forces also sought the release of political prisoners and a guarantee that aid agencies would be allowed to access areas in need of food medical supplies and services.
The U.S. and Russia have worked for months to bring the two parties to the negotiating table in Geneva, with the U.S. drawing on its relationship with the rebel forces (which it has supplied with small arms and ammunitions), and Russia pressuring Assad, its longtime ally. The talks, known as “Geneva 2,” are hoped to convene by the end of the year.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 115,000 people, displaced more than six million people internally and more than two million Syrians to neighboring countries since the start of the conflict in March 2011, according the USAID.