Russia Urges Syrian Opposition to Unite for Sake of Peace Talks

Lavrov describes unification as 'prerequisite' for peace talks to advance to a resolution.

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei LavrovCredit: Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday told the head of a major Syrian opposition bloc that the "the broad spectrum of the opposition" must unite to reach a resolution to the conflict, state media reported.

Lavrov described such a unification as a "prerequisite" for peace talks to advance to a resolution.

He made the comments to Hassan Abdel Azim, the head of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, a bloc of left-wing political parties that is tolerated by the ruling regime.

Moscow has hosted several Middle Eastern leaders and members of the Syrian opposition in recent weeks as Russia seeks a greater role as a mediator in the Syrian civil war and efforts to combat the terrorist group Islamic State.

Vladimir Putin's popularity rose internationally in late 2013 when Russia negotiated a deal to dispose of the Syrian military's chemical weapons, but months later Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, critically damaging the Russian president's reputation on the world stage.

Now Russia is renewing its drive to be a mediator in the Middle East, particularly to protect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled Syria for 15 years and is one of Russia's biggest allies in the region.

Syria's civil war has lasted four years and killed at least 250,000 people.