A Kurdish Syrian woman walks with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 25, 2015.
Yasin Akgul—AFP/Getty Images
January 23, 2017 3:59 AM EST

Representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups were scheduled to come together in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Monday, in the latest attempt to broker a peace deal in Syria, where the six-year civil war has killed more than 300,000 people.

The talks — jointly hosted by Russia, Turkey and Iran — feature a notable absence: the U.S., Bloomberg reports. The American ambassador to Kazakhstan is merely observing the negotiations.

Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Kremlin-backed research group the Russian International Affairs Council, told Bloomberg, “The center of gravity in the Syrian conflict is moving away from great powers to regional players.” He reportedly cited the role of Turkey and Iran, along with rebel-backers Saudi Arabia and Qatar in resolving the conflict.

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The talks follow a shaky cease-fire brokered in December by Russia and Turkey, in the wake of the rebels’ defeat in Aleppo, that has mostly remained intact. Earlier cease-fires brokered by the U.S. and Russia, by contrast, had quickly collapsed.

Faysal Itani, an analyst with the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., told Bloomberg that the sidelining of the U.S., which he described as “marginal to the war,” would “not prevent the Turks and the Russians coming to and implementing an agreement.”


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Write to Joseph Hincks at joseph.hincks@time.com.

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