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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters that following the Astana talks that a major split occured between the Syrian ‘opposition’, during a press conference in Moscow, Friday.

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (Russian): “After the meeting in Astana, a split occurred in the ranks of anti-government armed formations, as Jabhat-al-Nusra terrorists attempted massive attacks on the groups of armed opposition that sent their representatives to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. In this situation, a part of the moderate opposition requested Ahrar al-Sham to protect them, as they are a more powerful group which is seeking neutrality in the conflict of Jabhat-al Nusra, with supporters present at the Astana meeting. Meanwhile, the gangs whose chieftains are set on continuing the armed struggle with the government have started to actively pledge allegiance to Jabhat al-Nusra. In order to unite its supporters, al-Nusra has created a new structure – the United Liberation of the Levant – whose militants have engaged in fighting against Ahrar al-Sham.”

Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson (Russian): “We also noticed in statements from the political and armed opposition, that they are trying to prejudge the results of the UN Geneva negotiations; which are scheduled to take place on February 20. Once again the opposition representatives set ultimatum-like preconditions with which they stipulate their participation in the peace talks in Geneva. Separately, I would like to mention the demand for an apology from the United Nations and the Arab League Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura for his statement, where he proposed to form an opposition delegation himself, if the oppositionists would not do that by themselves. From our side, we fully support De Mistura’s determination for a quick continuation of the intra-Syrian contacts in Geneva. We think that the attempts to delay or to postpone the peace talks are unacceptable.”