Sponsored peace talks between Syrian govt, opposition kicks off Geneva

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The seventh round of the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva have stared with the meeting between United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the Syrian governmental delegation headed by Bashar Jaafari. "This could become very much a priority anyway just after the liberation of Raqqa", de Mistura said, referring to the Islamic State stronghold in northeastern Syria.

Iran and Russian Federation are Syrian government allies, while Turkey is a supporter of anti-Damascus groups. De Mistura said he was not expecting breakthroughs in this week's talks, but he had had a working lunch with the heads of the three rival opposition delegations, and he hoped that they could work together more.

The last talks ended in May with little progress towards ending a war that has killed more than 320,000 people since it began in March 2011.

Previous rounds involving the government of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition have not yielded any tangible results, as they could not even agree to sit down at the same table.

Sponsored peace talks between Syrian govt, opposition kicks off Geneva

Still, both sides are expected to participate once again, with Yehya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee, telling AFP he had "modest expectations".

Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a calm prevailed in southern Syria after ceasefire brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan.

The deal covers the provinces of Daraa, Sweida and Quneitra, which had been the scene of fighting between government forces and rebels in recent weeks.

The truce was not violated in its first hours, according to the Britain-based watchdog.

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