ASTANA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian armed opposition cited the strikes made by Russian air forces as reasons for its refusal to attend the negotiations in Astana, while Russia said they were finding excuses.
Colonel of Free Syrian Army, representative of the Syrian armed opposition Fares al Babesh said that the strikes made by Russian air forces on their positions, as well as on the peaceful population of Syria were reasons for their refusal to come to the negotiations in Astana, Kazakh capital.
"We regret that the delegation of the Syrian opposition refused to come in. Those pretexts, under which they refused to come, we still think of them as contrived," said Head of Russian delegation, Russian President's special representative for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev.
The third round of negotiations on the Syrian settlement starts in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on Tuesday. The meeting is held in the form of bilateral and multilateral consultations. A plenary meeting is scheduled for March 15.
Representatives of the UN, the U.S. and Jordan were invited to the meeting as observers. The UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura did not come to Astana, the UN delegation will be headed, as in the previous round, by UN expert consultant Milos Strugar. The U.S. side will be represented by U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol.
"Of course, if they (the opposition) were here, maybe a process would move in their interests faster," Lavrentiev added.
He said that the absence of the Syrian opposition at Astana-3 peace talks will not affect the negotiation process.
"The ceasefire regime, in our view, is generally stable, there are some violations, but they are not at a large scale," said Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Gennadiy Gatilov.