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Maj. Abu Usama al-Joulani, the leader of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front in Quneitra, described recent events in southern Syria.A rebel commander named Iyad Shamsi described the situation in northern Syria.Shamsi said there have also been recent setbacks in northwest Syria for the Nusra Front, an extremist group allied with Al-Qaeda.The experts included Samir al-Taqi, a Syrian exile who heads the Orient Research Center in Dubai, Borge Brende, the foreign minister of Norway, Jean-Marie Guehenno, the leader of the International Crisis Group, and Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace.Though their specific comments were off the record, there appeared to be a loose consensus within this group on several points: Syrians must play a greater role in the political transition, rather than simply accepting dictation from Moscow and Washington; a role for Syrian Kurds must be found, but not so potent that it threatens the interests of Turkey; moves against Daesh and the Nusra Front must involve Syrian Sunni fighters, rather than simply an air campaign by the United States and its partners; and Western humanitarian aid and mediation is essential to consolidate the cease-fire.
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