New Jaish al-Islam chief says group will not pull out of peace talks

Middle East Eye reports: The new head of a key rebel group in Syria has denied that it is pulling out of peace talks after its previous leader was killed in an airstrike last week.

Zahran Alloush was head of Jaish al-Islam, and was killed in a strike east of Damascus that was launched on Friday by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, with conflicting reports indicating that the plane might have been Russian or Syrian.

Immediately after the killing the group announced that it would be pulling out of a negotiations council formed during an opposition conference in Riyadh earlier this month.

However, in his first public statements since taking over leadership of the group, Abu Hammam al-Buyedhani said Jaish al-Islam’s stance on negotiations “has not changed”.

“We will not adopt a position on our own without discussing it with our partners.”

The United Nations has set 25 January as a target date to begin peace talks on Syria. [Continue reading…]

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