World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria's main opposition coalition on Tuesday conditioned its attendance at the upcoming Geneva II conference on the release of political detainees held by the Bashar al-Assad government.
"The release of political detainees held in regime prisons is one of two basic conditions set by the coalition for attending Geneva II," Loai al-Safi, spokesman for the Syrian opposition coalition, told Anadolu Agency by phone.
He added: "Without it, the coalition will deem participation [at the conference] as useless."
The opposition's second condition is the lifting of a blockade imposed by regime forces on dozens of Syrian towns and villages.
According to the opposition, some 250,000 people have been detained by the Syrian regime since the uprising against al-Assad began in March 2011.
Al-Safi called on Damascus to release 5,000 detained women and children as a goodwill gesture.
If the international community was unable to pressure the regime to release the prisoners, he asserted, then it was probably also unable to pressure Damascus to respond to the demands of the opposition and the Syrian people.
Qassem Saadelddin, a member of the Free Syrian Army's high command, reaffirmed that the two conditions set for attendance at Geneva II also represented a benchmark for any future negotiations with the Syrian regime.
"There's no use holding Geneva II if these conditions aren't met," he said, "or if there aren't any binding international guarantees that the regime will respond to them, since the Syrian regime is known for lying and deception."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set January 22 as the conference's starting date.
The event had initially been planned for late May, after having first been proposed at a Moscow meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Amid heated disagreements as to who should have seats at the table, however, the conference was subsequently postponed.Last Mod: 04 Aralık 2013, 15:04