Palestinian children attend a rally in solidarity with Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus, in Gaza City, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The Yarmouk camp once housed some 160,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war in Israel known by Palestinians as “Naqba,” or the Catastrophe, and by Israelis as the War of Independence. The dire conditions at the Yarmouk camp are a striking example of the catastrophe unfolding in rebel-held areas blockaded by the Syrian government. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
ISTANBUL (AP) — The main, Western-backed Syrian opposition group voted Saturday in favor of attending a coming peace conference aimed at ending the country’s bloody civil war, paving the way for the first direct talks between the rival sides in the nearly three-year conflict.
The vote in Istanbul came as food supplies began entering a besieged rebel-held Palestinian refugee camp in Syria’s capital for the first time in months, an apparent goodwill gesture by President Bashar Assad’s government ahead of the peace conference, Palestinian and United Nations officials said.
The Syrian National Coalition was under huge pressure from its Western and Arab sponsors to attend the peace talks, scheduled to open Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux. The Syrian government has already said it will attend the U.N.-sponsored talks.
The Coalition’s leader, Ahmad al-Jarba, said in a speech late Saturday that they are heading to the conference “without any bargain regarding the principles of the revolution and we will not be Login to read more