Kerry blames Assad regime 'obstruction' for Syria talks breakdown
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the breakdown of the Syria talks in Geneva on the ‘obstruction’ by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to Agence France-Presse.
“None of us are surprised that the talks have been hard, and that we are at a difficult moment, but we should all agree that the al-Assad regime’s obstruction has made progress even tougher,” Kerry said.
Kerry urged the regime’s supporters to press for the creation of a transitional government and warned they would bear the responsibility “if the regime continues with its intransigence in the talks and its brutal tactics on the ground.”
The second round of negotiations seeking an end to the brutal three-year-old conflict in Geneva broke off Saturday with no result.
No date was set for a third round of talks and it was unclear whether any would be held, according to AFP.
Kerry said the United States remained committed to the Geneva process and all diplomatic efforts to find a political solution.
“There’s no recess in the suffering of the Syrian people, and the parties and the international community must use the recess in the Geneva talks to determine how best to use this time and its resumption to find a political solution to this horrific civil war,” he said.
A monitoring group said this week more than 5,000 people had been killed since the talks began on Jan. 22.
Meanwhile, the evacuation of civilians from Syria’s Homs city has halted with no new efforts to extend a truce with governor saying “armed groups” prevented operations a day earlier.
“The evacuation of civilians was not carried out yesterday (Saturday) because some of the armed groups prevented the citizens inside from moving to the transit point to leave,” Talal Barazi said in a statement.
“The province will continue its efforts with the United Nations to evacuate all those who wish to leave,” he added.
The United Nations and Syria’s Red Crescent began operations to evacuate trapped civilians and deliver aid inside besieged parts of Homs on Feb. 7.
The work was made possible by a deal that included a ceasefire that was extended twice, but expired on Saturday night with no word of attempts to extend it further.
The U.N. and Red Crescent were able to evacuate some 1,400 of the 3,000 people estimated to be trapped in Homs for more than 18 months by a government siege.
But around 400 men and boys aged 15-55 were detained by authorities for investigation upon leaving.
Earlier on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several besieged neighborhoods of Homs came under regime shelling, and government forces battled rebels in the outskirts of the districts.
Regime forces also shelled the Waer neighborhood, a Homs district under opposition control but not subject to the army siege, where most of the evacuees fled.
More than 140,000 people have died and millions have been driven from their homes since the conflict began.