A shaky start to peace talks on Syrian war

WEB DESK: Peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s civil war are off to a shaky start, with the main opposition group at first boycotting the session, then agreeing to meet with U.N. officials — but still insisting it won’t negotiate. Here’s what we know about the sometimes confusing events that took place in Geneva:

— The opposition group, called the Higher Negotiating Committee, has said it wouldn’t participate without an end to airstrikes on civilians by Russian and Syrian government forces, a lifting of blockades of towns in rebel-held areas, and the release of detainees.

— Then, as U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura opened the session by meeting with a delegation representing the Syrian government, the HNC said it would come to Geneva. It would wait until its conditions are met, it added, and only then would it negotiate.

— De Mistura said he had “good reason to believe” the HNC would join the talks on Sunday.

— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington welcomes the HNC’s “important decision … to attend negotiations.”