A Syrian peace conference in Russia got off to a rocky start after some delegates opposed to President Bashar Al-Assad refused to leave the airport on arrival, saying they were offended by the presence of the Syrian government flag and emblem.

Russia, a staunch Assad ally, is hosting what it has called a Syrian congress of national dialogue in the black sea resort of Sochi that it hopes will launch negotiations on drafting a new constitution for Syria after almost seven years of war.

But in a blow to Moscow, which has cast itself as a middle east peace broker, the event has been boycotted by the leadership of the Syrian opposition, while powers such as the united states, Britain and France are not there because of what they say is the Syrian government’s refusal to properly engage.

The conference, which was originally billed as a two-day event got underway as a one-day event today.

Reuters reporters said most of the delegates they had spoken to had come from Damascus and did not oppose Assad.

One group of delegates who had flown in from turkey and were opposed to Assad refused to leave Sochi airport until Syrian government flags and emblems were refused.