BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian opposition group announced Saturday it will attend a proposed peace conference in Moscow later this month, further highlighting the splits between those opposing President Bashar Assad's government amid the country's grinding civil war.
The announcement by the Popular Front of Change and Liberation of former Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, which called the talks "a glimmer of hope," came only a day after leading opposition politician Mouaz al-Khatib declined to go to Moscow.
A-Khatib, the former president of the western-baked Syrian National Coalition, said in a statement posted on his Facebook page Friday that he turned down the Russian invitation because there could be no talks with the government "without releasing detainees, especially women and children."
"The circumstances that we believe are necessary to make the meeting successful are not available," al-Khatib said.
On Thursday, the Damascus-based Building the Syrian State party of imprisoned politician Louay Hussein also said it would not participate in the Moscow talks. Last week, the Syrian National Coalition elected Khalid Khoja as its new leader, who announced Monday that his group is not yet willing to go to Moscow.
The fractured opposition's opposing decisions make it unclear whether anything will come of the Russian proposal to hold talks after Jan. 20. Assad's government had said it is prepared to participate.
Russia is a staunch ally of Assad. The Western-backed Syrian opposition has insisted that any negotiated settlement include the formation of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, a demand rejected by Assad's government.
Syria's nearly four-year conflict has killed over 200,000 people. It also gave birth to the Islamic State group, which now controls a third of Syria and neighboring Iraq.