Syria talks on fragile Idlib truce begin in Kazakhstan

Negotiators from Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Kazakhstan's capital Astana on Wednesday (November 28th) for two days of talks aiming to preserve a 10-week-old truce in northern Syria, AFP reported.

Talks were under way between delegations from the three countries as well as the Syrian regime and opposition, the Kazakh foreign ministry said in a statement.

In addition to cooling the conflict around Idlib -- Syria's last major opposition and extremist stronghold -- discussions will focus on creating conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced people, as well as post-conflict reconstruction, the ministry said.

The UN will be represented at the negotiations by Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, according to the statement, in what will likely be his last engagement on the conflict before leaving the post.

The Idlib truce deal is in the balance after an alleged chemical attack in the regime-held city of Aleppo on Saturday which has triggered retaliatory raids.

The exact circumstances of the purported attack on three districts of the city are murky and bitterly disputed, and the incident has put strain on an already fragile agreement reached in mid-September to fend off a fully-fledged assault on Idlib.

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