Syria conflict: Powers backing rivals meet in Vienna

The first talks bringing together all foreign powers backing rival sides in Syria’s civil war have opened.
The meeting in Vienna will seek to close the gap between the US and its allies, who support the rebels, and the key foreign allies of the Syrian government, Russia and Iran.
It is the first time Iran has been involved in the diplomacy.
Meanwhile, Syrian activists say a bombardment by government forces killed at least 40 people near Damascus.
Footage uploaded to the internet – which cannot be independently verified – showed bodies strewn across the ruins of a marketplace in the rebel-held suburb of Douma.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 100 people were wounded.
Douma is often targeted by the government, and rebels fire rockets from there into Damascus.
The four-year-old war in Syria, which began with an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has left 250,000 people dead and forced half the country’s population – or 11 million people – from their homes.
Russia and Iran have recently stepped up their military involvement in the conflict, backing forces loyal to Mr Assad.
The US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations have long insisted that he cannot play a long-term role in Syria’s future.


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