Syrian regime willing to participate in talks with opposition

Syrian government forces walk on a heavily damaged street in the regime-controlled side of the northern city of Aleppo on November 9.

Story highlights

  • Deputy prime minister says regime will participate in Geneva talks
  • War began in March 2011
  • More than 4 million people are estimated to have fled the country

(CNN)The Syrian government says it is ready to participate in talks in Geneva aimed at ending the country's years-long civil war.

Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moallem said Thursday the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is willing to participate in the inter-Syrian dialogue without foreign interference. His remarks were made during a visit to China and were reported by the state-run Syrian news agency SANA.
    The Syrian civil war began in March 2011, when protests that took place in the context of the Arab Spring were repressed by the Assad government. Some estimates of the number of people killed run in excess of 300,000. In addition, according to U.N. estimates, more than 4 million people have fled the country, many of them headed for Europe.
    Efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict have been hindered by strong opposition to the Assad regime, which is perceived as brutal, and by the fractured nature of the opposition, which includes the terrorist group ISIS as well as more moderate groups supported by the United States.
    This is not the first time the Assad regime has indicated a willingness to talk to the opposition. Assad had said earlier that he was prepared to participate in an inter-Syrian dialogue in Moscow.