Russia Insists on Holding Sochi Summit in Parallel with Geneva Talks on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017 (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017 (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS)
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Russia Insists on Holding Sochi Summit in Parallel with Geneva Talks on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017 (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017 (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS)

Moscow is insisting on holding the Syrian National Dialogue Conference in Sochi, which is set to kick off on December 2, a few days after the launching of the Geneva meeting on Syria upon the initiative of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.
 
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov met with the international envoy in Geneva to discuss the role of the United Nations in the “Sochi Conference”, which Moscow wants to hold with the participation of around 1,300 participants to discuss “political reform” in Syria and the formation of a committee to amend or draft the constitution, paving the way for the elections.
 
According to information available to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Russian Defense Ministry has started contacts with Syria to invite, to Sochi early next month, about 1,000 representatives of the “de-escalation zones” agreements, in addition to political forces and civil society groups, as well as hundreds of participants from other countries.
 
While Tehran, Damascus and Washington have not welcomed the holding of the Russian conference, Ankara has set a condition represented by its rejection to invite the Democratic National Union of Kurdistan to the conference, in order to encourage Ankara’s allies in the Syrian opposition to attend the talks, as reported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi a few days ago.
 
The Sochi conference was present in the meetings of Iranian Assistant Foreign Minister Hassan Ansari in Moscow and his talks in Damascus with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
 
It will also be discussed during the upcoming meeting of the foreign ministers of countries sponsoring the Astana talks – Russia, Turkey and Iran – which will be held in the few coming days.



More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

 At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.
One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta told Reuters. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The offensive has left Gaza in ruins, killed more than 37,400 people, of whom 101 were killed in the past 24 hours, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left nearly the entire population homeless and destitute.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: "A short while ago, army fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City."
It said more details would be released soon.
Hamas did not comment on the Israeli claim to have hit its military infrastructure. It said in a statement the attacks targeted the civilian population and vowed in a statement "the occupation and its Nazi leaders will pay the price for their violations against our people."
Footage obtained by Reuters showed dozens of Palestinians rushing out to search for victims amid the destroyed houses. The footage showed wrecked homes, blasted walls, and debris and dust filling the street in Shati refugee camp.

More than eight months into the war, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the centre.
Residents said Israeli tanks deepened their incursion into western and northern Rafah areas in recent days. On Saturday Israeli forces bombed several areas from air and the ground, forcing many families living in areas described as humanitarian-designated zones to leave northwards.
The Israeli military said forces continued "precise, intelligence-based" targeted operations in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen and dismantling military infrastructure.
On Friday, the Gaza health ministry said at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell hit a tent housing displaced families.