The Western-backed Syrian opposition council agreed to attend peace talks in Geneva that could end the country’s more than two-year-old civil war. The Syrian National Coalition announced its decision in a statement on Monday morning.
The statement, which was translated from Arabic, outlines conditions that must be met before the talks, reports Reuters. The coalition also wants affirmation that any international conference will result in a political transition in Syria.
News of the agreement comes days after media reports that the opposition was considering agreeing to the talks, only if its rebels fighting on the ground backed the move.
AFP notes that spokesman Khaled Saleh, talking with reporters in Istanbul, explained that the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army “are on the same side and we are fighting a common enemy.” Saleh added, “If we are going to be in Geneva, they are going to be part of that delegation. They have as much interest in a successful and free democratic Syria as we do.”
It appears the FSA rebels may have been partial to the talks, though the statement on Sunday said a committee will continue talks with revolution forces to explain its stance on the talks, called “Geneva 2” in diplomatic circles. According to the Syrian National Coalition, there must also be a guarantee that relief agencies can access besieged areas.
The group wants political prisoners released as well. The consensus was reached after two days of discussions. Adib Shishakly, a member of the coalition, stated, “All we can do is hope that these [Geneva] talks will end with the departure of Bashar al-Assad.”
The opposition has been splintered by rivalries, disagreements, and differing ambitions. Rebels fighting to overthrow Assad are split between the FSA and militants linked to Al-Qaeda. Before Sunday’s vote, one coalition member told AFP, “We still need a lot of discussion before making any firm decision. We cannot go to Geneva without wide support from all the factions fighting against Assad.”
Considering the agreement to talks in Geneva announced by the Syrian opposition on Sunday, it appears the coalition has that support.