Syrian opposition balks at Iran’s invitation to peace talks

Syria’s main opposition group on Monday said it would not attend peace talks with President Bashar Assad’s regime later this month if an invitation made by the United Nations to Iran is not withdrawn.

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told reporters on Sunday that Iran had invited to the Geneva conference after Foreign Minister Javid Zarif "pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux," according to the Associated Press.

But the Syrian Coalition said in a tweet that its representatives would not attend if the invitation to Iran, which supports Assad, stands.

The State Department late Sunday also called on the U.N. to rescind the invitation if Iran does not express “explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communique including the establishment of a transitional governing body by mutual consent with full executive authorities.”

“This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month opened the door to Iran’s participation in talks aimed at ending the conflict, which has been raging since March, 2011.

Administration officials laid out conditions for Iran’s participation.

Iran would first have to lean on Bashar Assad's regime to cease bombing rebel-held civilian areas and allow humanitarian aid to reach them, a U.S. official told Reuters.