Syria's warring sides focus on 'terrorism' as talks resume in Geneva
Syrian negotiators Thursday restarted their peace talks mediated by U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, according to the Associated Press.
The talks resumed behind closed doors in Geneva, a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s advisor rejected the opposition’s call for a transitional governing body to be established.
During the sixth day of U.N.-brokered peace talks, Syria’s warring sides discussed the issue of terrorism, sources told Agence France-Presse, adding that the gulf over who is to blame remained deep.
Halting violence and terrorism in Syria was among the terms of the never-implemented Geneva I declaration made by an international conference in 2012, and which forms the basis for the current talks.
The Syrian regime spotlighted hardline Islamists groups among the rebels and therefore placed the “terrorist” label on the broader opposition.
Government negotiators have repeatedly insisted that the subject of terrorism must be discussed at the talks.
The Syrian presidential election, scheduled for later this year, may not take place amid the raging violence, Bouthaina Shaaba, Assad’s advisor said on Wednesday.
Brahimi announced that the first phase of the talks will end on Friday, as scheduled, and he is satisfied that the two sides are at the least “still talking.”
Meanwhile, The U.N. and a Palestinian official said hundreds of food parcels have been delivered to a besieged, rebel-held refugee camp in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The supplies for Yarmouk came a day after activists said at least 85 people have died in the camp since mid-2013 as a result of starvation and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or the lack of medical aid in the hard-hit Palestinian camp.
U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness said a convoy carrying 900 food parcels entered Yarmouk on Thursday morning, according to the Associate Press.
Despite “chaotic scenes, by noon,” 600 parcels had been distributed, Gunness added.
Anwar Raja, a Palestinian official in Syria, said a number of elderly people will be evacuated from Yarmouk later in the day.
Hundreds of parcels were also sent to Yarmouk earlier this month.