Syria government to return to Geneva talks Sunday

Emergency services and civilians gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion in a predominantly pro-government neighbourhood of the Syrian city of Homs on Tuesday afternoon. AFP

The UN-backed Syrian peace talks restarted in Geneva on Tuesday without the regime delegation after the Syrian government team left last week without confirming it would return.

"For the time being there has been no final decision".

A fresh round of talks aimed at putting an end to almost seven years of bloodshed in Syria opened last week in Geneva.

"It is the responsibility of the global community and the special envoy to announce to the world which party is rejecting negotiation", the chief opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Following a shake-up of the Syrian opposition leadership, the Syrian National Coalition appear to have softened their stance on Russia's participation in peace talks.

Negotiations were paused over the weekend and resumed on Tuesday, but without the regime delegation headed by Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari.

Russian Federation has been left red-faced by the Syrian regime's decision to walk out of negotiations, an opposition leader has claimed, as the UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks look doomed to fail once again.

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"This refusal highlights the obstruction strategy of the political process carried out by the Damascus regime, which is responsible for the absence of progress in the negotiations", French foreign ministry deputy spokesman Alexandre Georgini told reporters.

Syrian government negotiators are still unsure whether they will return to continue peace talks in Geneva after they flew back to Damascus this weekend, a government source said on Monday. Western diplomats say Russian President Vladimir Putin's Syria envoy Alexander Lavrentiev was present at the Riyadh meeting last month where the opposition represented at the conference drew up a statement rejecting any future role for Al-Assad.

The opposition, united in one delegation for the first time, has defied calls to give up on its demand that Assad must step down before any peace deal can be reached.

During last week's sessions, de Mistura shuttled between representatives of the warring sides, who did not meet face-to-face.

He asked the parties to discuss the points and add their thoughts before the talks resumed.

More than half a million people are believed to have been killed since 2011, the vast majority by the Assad government and allied forces.

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