Rebel fighters of Jaysh al-Islam gather in Tal Farzat in the besieged rebel-held eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, Syria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo
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The meetings on Eastern Ghouta – the only major rebel bastion around the capital – underline Moscow's deepening role in trying to shape Syria's future after the conflict, which broke out in 2011 .The two main rebel forces in the suburbs signed cease-fires with Russia in the summer, but fighting has carried on.Moscow says the reconciliation center at its air base in Syria routinely holds peace talks with armed factions across the country.Russian President Vladimir Putin, who first sent warplanes to help Assad in 2015, is pushing for a congress of national dialogue between Syria's many combatants.With the map of Syria's conflict redrawn, Russia wants to convert military gains into a settlement that stabilizes the shattered nation and secures its interests in the region.To this end, Moscow has been negotiating behind the scenes with armed factions across Syria.Nearly seven years into the war, Assad has repeatedly vowed to take back every inch of Syria.Both rebel forces said Russia instigated the talks.Failaq al-Rahman only negotiates with Russian officials outside Syria, said Olwan, their spokesman.
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