The UN sought painstakingly on Friday to get a new round of Syrian peace talks off the ground, but there were few signs of progress as dozens more civilian deaths underlined the scale of the challenge.
The UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who brought the Syrian regime and opposition delegates symbolically together late on Thursday, held separate meetings with them on Friday.
Heading the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Nasr al-Hariri described the opposition delegation's meeting with de Mistura as positive.
"The meeting was good and we discussed the transition of power. There is still no major steps taken, but we are working on it," Hariri said.
"The emphasis remains on the humanitarian situation and stopping the breach of ceasefires," he added.
Even as the new UN talks began, the death toll in a suicide bombing near the Syrian town of Al-Bab rose to 51, the latest atrocity in a six-year war which has killed more than 310,000 people.
On Thursday, activists reported heavy clashes across the southern city of Daraa between pro-regime forces and opposition factions headed by a al-Qaeda-linked group.
Opposition media agencies also reported government air raids around the Hama countryside in central Syria.
The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.
Copyright @ 2022 The New Arab.