[JURIST] The High Negotiations Committee (HNC), comprised of Syrian opposition groups, stated Friday that they will attend peace discussions with the Damascus government facilitated by the UN that will begin on Monday. The HNC seeks [AP report] a transitional government with full executive powers, and no role for President Bashar al-Assad [official website] or his associates. These peace negotiations will likely discuss possible federal division [Reuters report] of Syria. Last month the UN Security Council [official website] approved the Syria ceasefire plan, which has been successful [JURIST reports] so far. These peace talks will follow the first round of negotiations that failed in early February during a Russian-backed government offensive.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of President Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. Earlier this week, Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] that Russian and Syrian armed forces are deliberately attacking hospitals and other medical facilities as part of a military strategy to clear the way to northern Aleppo. Just prior, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee passed [press release] two resolutions calling for an international tribunal in the Middle East to address the alleged war crimes [JURIST report] committed by the government of Syria and its allies, specifically Russia and Iran. In February the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights reported that the Syrian government is systematically exterminating detainees [JURIST report]. In November Human Rights Watch released a report stating that the practice of caging captured soldiers and civilians constitutes hostage-taking [JURIST report] and an outrage against their personal dignity.