MESOP SYRIA INSIDE TODAY : FSA Will Not Halt Fighting for Syrian Peace Conference

Free Syrian Army commander General Salim Idriss said the FSA would not participatein a peace conference on Syria in Geneva, and would not suspend fighting. The United Nations announced Monday that the long-delayed Geneva 2 conference will begin on January 22. The Syrian government said it will attend the talks, but will not accept any preconditions.

Idriss said, “Conditions are not suitable for running the Geneva 2 talks at the given date” and continued that the FSA would not stop fighting during or after the conference. The opposition Syrian National Coalitionreiterated Tuesday that it will not accept Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in any transitional government. Additionally, the coalition called for the international community to “prove its seriousness” ahead of the planned talks by establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Geneva conference is thebest opportunity” to form a transitional government for Syria but noted that there would be many obstacles in working toward a political solution to the conflict. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mentioned Tehran would attendpeace talks if invited, stating, “Participation of Iran in Geneva 2 is in our view an important contribution to the resolution of the problem.” The United States has been opposed to Iranian participation in talks in part because Tehran failed to agree to a key element of the initial Geneva conference, which says that a future Syrian government must be formed through “mutual consent” from the regime and the opposition.