Protesters carry Free Syria Army flags and shout slogans during an anti-government protest after Friday prayers in the town of Marat Numan in Idlib province, Syria, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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The U.N. envoy for Syria Friday called for elections in the war-ravaged country in 18 months, as the opposition announced it would attend fresh peace talks next week.The Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee, the main Syrian opposition grouping, agreed Friday to attend the U.N.-backed talks.A plan agreed by world powers last year called for six months of negotiations followed by a transitional government, a new constitution and elections within 18 months.U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura has said "substantive" talks would begin Monday in Geneva and last no longer than 10 days.The first day of negotiations would start the countdown to both presidential and parliamentary elections in Syria under U.N. observation, he said. That would mean elections around mid-September 2017 .Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, however, that de Mistura should this time include representatives of Kurdish groups, which have been fighting in Syria.The chief prosecutor for the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Friday that those behind atrocities in Syria must eventually be held to account.Syrian government forces Friday were battling Daesh 7 kilometers from the ancient site.
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