Syrian troops in Aleppo (file)
Syrian troops in Aleppo (file)AFP photo

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that peace talks in Geneva between Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and opposition forces will be held January 22.

The conference is anticipated to focus on implementing the Geneva Communique which was drafted following the Action Group for Syria's meeting in June 2012, reports BBC.

The communique calls for a halt to violence and the formation of a transitional government.

Earlier this month the opposition coalition Syrian National Committee (SNC) agreed to attending the Geneva talks, but stipulated that Assad could not have any future role in Syria's transitional period.

Assad's regime has said it will "in principle" attend the Geneva talks, but will not negotiate with "terrorists", the term it uses to describe almost all opposition forces, and refuses demands for Assad to step down.

Syria's definition of "terrorists" appears to be rather liberally applied, as last Wednesday Rajaa Nasser, a top official of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC) - one of the few officially-approved opposition groups - was arrested by authorities. AFP reports the arrest occurred in the heart of Damascus.

The date for Geneva talks comes just a day after opposition forces reportedly captured Syria's largest oil field, potentially making the government reliant on foreign oil imports. Over the weekend, fierce fighting in Damascus which began Friday was estimated to have left over 160 dead.

Meanwhile, the leading Islamist opposition forces announced Friday that were forming a unified "Islamic Front" which aims to depose Assad and establish an Islamic state.

Reports Sunday noted that over 11,000 children have been killed in the bloody Syrian conflict, which now stretches into its third year.

UN estimates claim more than 110,000 people have died in the conflict overall, although other estimates put the figure much higher.