The people of Syria need a general ceasefire in the remorseless fighting that has killed so many and left many more homeless. It is a grave mistake that the international community has not developed a unanimous agreement that a ceasefire is absolutely necessary. In the confusion of the multi-factional fighting in Syria, there are far too many regional powers that seek to gain from continuing the fighting, as the Russians, Iranians and the Turks continue to pursue assorted military options.

The core ceasefire talks are between the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and the opposition coalition.

Everyone has agreed that Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Jabhat Al Nusra are both excluded from the talks because of their backing of terror and they are way outside any political process that will lead to a reunited Syria.

The Opposition wants to include Ahrar Al Sham and Jaish Al Islam, but the Russians are telling their regime allies to insist that they also should be branded terrorist groups.

These tactics to skew the talks before they even start are a mistake and the Russians would do better to accept a wider range of Syrian groups at the talks and try to achieve as wide a ceasefire as possible.

The important Syrian Kurdish PYD militia holds substantial territories in northern Syria, but was excluded from the talks at the Turks’ request and the Turks have been bombing their positions in the last few days. Again, in the interest of a wider ceasefire and general peace talks, it would be better if the Kurds were included in the discussions.

The key point is that all these groups will be part of a future Syria. The chaos of the civil war has allowed all sorts of violent groups to emerge, but those who have a Syrian agenda and see themselves as part of a future inclusive Syria need to find some common ground. They need to have an arena where they can talk and the failure of the recent round of Geneva talks shows how easy it is for external powers to wreck Syrian efforts.

And no-one should forget that even if a general accord does break out in the midst of the civil war, there is still a brutal battle to be won against Daesh, which still controls a large part of the country and has no interest in the fate of Syria as a nation.