Syria peace talks to commence in January
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The United Nations on Saturday said it is planning to bring warring factions in the Syrian civil war to the table for peace talks on Jan. 25 in Geneva, Reuters reported.
 
A spokesman for U.N. Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura said in a statement that representatives from the Syrian government and “the broadest possible spectrum of the Syrian opposition and others” will convene for the talks.
 
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“He counts on full cooperation of all the relevant Syrian parties in the process,” said the statement, which was issued one day after top Syrian rebel leader Zahran Alloush was killed in an airstrike. “Continuing developments on the ground should not be allowed to derail it.”
 
The plan stems from a U.N. Security Council resolution on Dec. 18, which endorsed a roadmap for a solution to the nearly five-year-long conflict and set a target date for peace talks in January.
 
Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem on Thursday said the government was ready to take part in peace talks and hoped to create a national unity government.
 
The opposition coalition will be selected by a 34-member secretariat that will supervise the talks.
 
An estimated 250,000 people have been killed in the civil war that was sparked by the government’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups in early 2011.
 
Some 4.3 million Syrians have also fled the country, causing an international refugee crisis.