Men run at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel held besieged Douma neighbourhood of Damascus, Syria February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
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When Syria peace talks restart in Geneva Thursday after 10 months in the deep-freeze, familiar disagreements are likely to resurface, despite massive changes in the military and political context.Some opposition figures, western and Arab diplomats fear that if Assad stays in power, the violence will simmer for ever.The opposition says Assad is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths.The government delegation will be led by Syria's U.N. ambassador Bashar Jaafari, while the main opposition delegation will be headed by Nasr al-Hariri, a 40-year-old cardiologist from the southern province of Deraa, where the first demonstrations against Assad began in 2011 .Outside powers Russia and Iran, which back Assad, and Turkey and the United States, which support his opponents, will have no direct role in the talks.A question mark hangs over the position of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose public comments have signaled he is more concerned with fighting Daesh (ISIS) than with removing Assad. He appears to have withdrawn from the U.S.-Russian co-leadership that drove Syria diplomacy in the past.
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