Skip to main content

Syria peace conference set for January 22, U.N. says

By CNN Staff
updated 1:45 PM EST, Mon November 25, 2013
In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
HIDE CAPTION
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
Syrian civil war in photos
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
211
212
213
214
215
216
217
218
219
220
221
222
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Envoy says Iran and Saudi Arabia could be "possible participants"
  • Conference had been delayed several times, in part over who would attend
  • Syrian opposition contains numerous factions, some opposed to each other
  • Conference aims to end violence that has raged since March 2011

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- After months of delays, a "Geneva II" conference meant to broker an end to the Syrian civil war has been scheduled to begin on January 22 in Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations said Monday morning.

"At long last and for the first time, the Syrian government and opposition will meet at the negotiation table rather than the battlefield," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during a news conference.

He added that the goal of the conference includes "the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities."

While he dubbed the U.N.-brokered meeting a "mission of hope" and called on both sides to cease violence and release detainees in preparation for the talks, he did not say which parties will attend -- a subject that helped push back the conference for months.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. and Arab League special envoy to Syria, echoed Ban's sentiments in a later statement to reporters in Geneva. In regard to the release of detainees, Brahimi specifically mentioned two bishops who were abducted earlier this year, asking, "Why are they still kept?"

Youhanna Ibrahim, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, and Boulos al-Yaziji, the Greek orthodox metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskenderun, were abducted at gunpoint in April while en route to Aleppo, the National Catholic Reporter says.

While Ban declined to answer questions regarding his statement or elaborate on which opposition groups would attend, Brahimi said later that the government and rebels have been asked to name their delegations by the end of the year.

In response to questions, Brahimi said Iran and Saudi Arabia could be "possible participants" at Geneva II. Pressed more specifically on Iran, he said, "I don't think I can comment on that. I think we said several times that the secretary general of the United Nations and the secretary general of the Arab League are in favor of inviting Iran."

He added, "Not all the people who want to come to Geneva will be able to come, but they should know this is not an event. This is a process. And in this process, I'm sure that everybody who wants to participate in rebuilding what I call the new republic of Syria will be able to do so in the course of the process."

The conference would bring representatives from Syria's government and elements of the opposition to negotiate an end to the fighting that has wracked Syria since March 2011.

Yet the opposition is hardly a single group; it consists of numerous factions that often oppose each other. The al Qaeda-linked groups Islamic State in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra have made substantial gains in Syria in recent months, especially in the north, tilting the balance away from more moderate factions of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Syria's brutal war within a war gains momentum

Syrian polio crisis may threaten Europe
Syrian war drawing Israel?
Author: Split Syria to protect minorities

The conference had been held up in part because many branches of the Syrian opposition said they wouldn't attend, or wouldn't participate without preconditions.

Nineteen largely Islamist rebel groups, for example, last month flatly rejected participating. Some groups wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down before talks.

"The conflict in Syria has raged for too long. It would be unforgivable not to seize this opportunity to bring an end to the suffering and destruction it has caused," the United Nations said in an online statement Monday morning.

Al Qaeda advancing in Syria, one town at a time

Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, declined to say Monday who has guaranteed they will attend. But he said: "Given how long it has taken to get to this point," just the setting of a date "is a good sign."

Geneva II is a successor to Geneva I, a June 2012 meeting in which international parties laid out a peace plan for Syria that calls for a transitional governing body. It left open the question of whether al-Assad must leave power.

The United States and Russia announced in May that they would try to bring the warring parties to a second conference in Geneva to implement the plan. But the second Geneva conference was delayed several times.

In November, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that Syrian government officials would attend the conference without preconditions and with the goal of stopping violence in the country.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 after government forces cracked down on peaceful protesters during the Arab Spring movement. It is now a full-blown civil war. The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 people have died in the conflict, and another 9 million have been displaced.

International inspectors, meanwhile, are trying to ensure that Syria eliminates its chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of 2014. Syria agreed to do so under international pressure earlier this year.

More than 11,000 Syrian children killed in civil war

Rebels: Syrian airstrikes kill at least 40

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:28 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
Syria has submitted a revised proposal "that aims to complete the removal of all chemicals" from the country before the end of April.
updated 5:32 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on ISIS defector who says destroying ISIS as critical as defeating regime.
updated 10:53 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
The U.S. wants a United Nations resolution that will, among other things, bring humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria.
updated 7:59 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
When the radical Islamist militia ISIS arrived in the Syrian town of Addana a year ago, many welcomed them. What followed changed their minds.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
CNN obtained video clips from Syrian activists documenting the atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
updated 3:17 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
On Crossfire, Danielle Pletka discusses what the U.S. needs to do to resolve the Syria crisis.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Her almond-shaped brown eyes shine through her sunken face as a doctor lifts her sweater to reveal a tiny rib cage pushing against her skin.
updated 12:46 PM EST, Tue February 4, 2014
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is home to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. CNN spent several days meeting the residents of the camp.
updated 2:59 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts have found "direct evidence" of "torture and killing" by the Assad regime.
Traumatized children who have witnessed the horrors of war are being helped to read -- and rebuild a normal life. CNN's Becky Anderson reports.
updated 7:07 AM EST, Thu January 23, 2014
A battle zone tour organized by the Syrian government for CNN and several other media outlets Wednesday was more than bizarre.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert meets with the family of a little girl who was wounded in Syria, now living in a refugee camp.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
110 year old, Jabari Alawali walked for over 10 hours to reach Jordan from Syria.
ADVERTISEMENT