UN Syria talks to follow agenda set by UN resolution: envoy

Syria peace talks set for Feb. 23: UN

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was meanwhile meeting with top Russian officials in Moscow in the run-up to the anticipated talks.

The second round of the Astana talks began earlier on Thursday.

Issam al-Rais, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army's Southern Front, said mainstream rebel factions were also taking part in the fighting, in response to persistent government violations of the December 30 cease-fire.

United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura - who had also been invited and attended the previous Astana meeting in January - said he would not attend the talks and Turkey also sent a lower-level delegation than before.

The main Syrian opposition body said on Wednesday it wanted face-to-face negotiations with the Damascus government about a political transition at the Geneva talks.

Sam Heller from The Century Foundation said about the talks: "In theory, it is a complement to a still-live ongoing Geneva process".

Turkey, Russia and Iran on Thursday agreed to set up a joint commission to supervise the Syria truce.

The diplomat did not rule out the possibility of direct negotiations between the opposition and Damascus.

Lead rebel negotiator Mohammad Alloush said that the meeting "didn't achieve anything practical" but claimed the armed opposition received several pledges from Moscow.

The Kazakh government said on Saturday it had invited the government and rebels for February 15-16. He will be at the negotiations in an advisory role.

During the meeting, the two sides conferred on the latest developments in Syria, arrangements for implementation of the current ceasefire in the Arab country, and follow-up measures in regard to the process of Astana talks.

However, it is expected to be a tough task due to the uncertain presence of rebels.

Aidarbek Tumatov said that in the framework of the round table parties will give their speeches and have pleadings.

The Syrian government also seems to be less open to negotiations following recent successes such as the full recapture of Aleppo at the end of previous year.

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