The sixth round of peace negotiations between Syrian government representatives and foreign-sponsored opposition groups are underway in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The two days of talks are aimed at crunching out a deal that would establish a fourth de-escalation zone in the war-torn country. If successful, the zone will be located in Syria's western province of Idlib, according to PressTV.
U.N. Special Envoy on Syria Staffan De Mistura and Russian Special Envoy on Syria Alexander kicked off the first round negotiations. Next up will be talks between the Russian delegation with its U.S. counterpart.
Iran and Turkey are also present at the meetings to mediate discussions between the competing parties. They had previously organized an expert-level meeting that carved out the terms for setting up the de-escalation zone.
All previous peace negotiations have been held in Astana, where agreements between the Syrian government and warring opposition groups have resulted in four de-escalation zones in the Middle Eastern country.
Peace negotiations organized in Kazakhstan’s capital city coincide with similar meetings held at U.N. headquarters in Geneva.
Last month, Bouthaina Shaaban, a top advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told the al-Mayadeen television news network that the six-year war in her country is in its “penultimate stage” as foreign sponsors cut funding for rebel groups.
A “U-turn was achieved,” she said, adding that “it does not mean that we have won the war completely.”
“We are just at the beginning of the road towards reconstruction and rebuilding Syria.”
In July, U.S. President Donald Trump ended CIA support to rebel groups fighting to topple Assad. Instead, U.S. forces based in northern Syria are helping Kurdish-led militias push Islamic State group militants out of Raqqa city.
Meanwhile, Turkey, another longtime rebel backer, has shifted its priority away from ousting Assad, seeking to mend ties with Russia and curb Kurdish expansion near its border.