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New Round Of Syria Talks Under Way In Kazakh Capital

Representatives of Russia, Iran, and Turkey have begun a fresh round of talks on finding a solution to the situation in war-ravaged Syria.

The two-day talks kicked off on August 1 as part of the so-called Astana negotiations track, which have been held in the Kazakh capital -- recently renamed Nur-Sultan -- in parallel to UN-sponsored negotiations aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, now in its ninth year.

The situation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib and the country’s northeast, as well as the formation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, will be at the center of the 13th round of the Astana talks, according to Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry.

Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara back different sides in the conflict, but have said they want a political solution that brings an end to the war, which has killed more than 370,000 people, displaced millions, and devastated historical sites across the country.

Russia and Iran have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial military backing throughout the war that began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011. Turkey supports different rebel groups.

Russian and Iranian support helped turn the tide of the conflict in Assad's favor, but Syrian rebel groups and militant outfits still control parts of northwestern and southwestern Syria, while a Kurdish-led alliance backed by the United States holds most of the northeast.

Earlier this year, Russia-backed Syrian forces launched a massive offensive in Idlib, which is covered by a de-escalation agreement reached last year between Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

On August 1, the Russian Defense Ministry announced it had launched a new section on its website that is dedicated to the activities of the Russian Armed Forces in Syria.

The section, dubbed Mission in Syria, was launched to counter what it called “fake news about the Russian Armed Forces’ fight against international terrorism,” it said.

The Syrian and Russian governments frequently refer to opponents of Assad as terrorists.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS
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