December 27, 2016 / 10:52 AM / a year ago

Syrian opposition body not a party to talks that Moscow says are under way

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Syrian opposition body grouping armed and political opponents of President Bashar al-Assad has no knowledge of talks that Moscow says are taking place between the Syrian government and the opposition, a member said on Tuesday.

“We in the High Negotiations Committee certainly have no connection to this matter,” George Sabra, a member of the HNC, told Reuters.

The Interfax news agency earlier cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying that the Syrian government was holding talks with the opposition ahead of a possible wider meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The HNC includes armed groups fighting Assad under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, and took part in a failed bid to launch peace talks earlier this year. The HNC was established in Saudi Arabia with Riyadh’s backing in December, 2015.

Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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