New talks seek to end Syria's war after almost six years

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to helping put an end to the clashes (in Syria) and believes that the Astana meeting's main mission is facilitating Syrian-Syrian negotiations for the objective of ensuring Syria's peace and security", Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari said at the second round of the peace talks in Kazakhstan on Thursday.

"Meetings have already begun, including with the participation of the armed opposition", he said. They attended a similar indirect meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana last month.

Kazakhstan says it has postponed talks aimed at firming up a Syrian cease-fire by one day.

"The opposition factions that took part in the [first] Astana negotiations have been invited to the talks taking place in the Kazakh capital over the next two days", said Liwa Shuhada al-Islam representative Said Naqrash.

By comparison a second meeting in Geneva, now scheduled for February 23 and sponsored by the United Nations, is expected to focus on the key issues that divide the two sides, including the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish and the Syrian rebels opposed the constitution, while the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov defended the proposition stressing that the final say is with the Syrian people.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated during his meeting with U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Moscow on February 16 that clashes between the Syrian government and moderate opposition forces had fully stopped.

This will be the first time Syrian regime and opposition delegations have returned to Geneva since the talks were suspended in April 2016.

The Syrian government's envoy to the talks accused Turkey, one of the sponsors, of continuing to support "terrorist" groups and urged Ankara to withdraw its troops from Syria.

The efforts made by Iran, Syria and Turkey to mediate the Astana talks was no replacement for the previous efforts by the worldwide community to help end the Syria crisis, but rather serve as a supplementary initiative, he noted.