The Syrian government vowed Wednesdaythat Bashar al-Assad would not surrender his position as president at the proposed “Geneva 2” peace conference scheduled for January 22. Astatementissued by Syria’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday insisted that “the official Syrian delegation is not going to Geneva to surrender power.”
The statement comes a day after General Salim Idriss, commander of the Western-backed Free Syria Army (FSA), announced that the FSA would not attend the Geneva peace conference. International pressure has mounted on both regime and opposition actors to participate in the peace talks, and on Wednesday the foreign ministers of Turkey and Iran jointly called for a ceasefire in Syria prior to the Geneva conference. Meanwhile, the Turkish Interior Ministry reported that nearly 500 Turkish citizens have entered Syria to fight with al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist groups, namely the Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).