Syrian opposition delays peace negotiations

Published April 19th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
UN Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura speaks at the United Nations Offices. (AFP/File)
UN Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura speaks at the United Nations Offices. (AFP/File)

The Syrian opposition on Monday postponed peace talks over deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the country and renewed hostilities, the UN envoy on Syria said.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, where the latest round of UN-brokered talks with the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and the Syrian regime have been taking place since last week, Staffan de Mistura said the opposition would remain for informal technical discussions, despite its unilateral decision to defer indirect negotiations.

"I heard today by meeting the delegation of HNC [of] their intention to postpone their formal participation in... the negotiations, in order to express their own concern due to [the] deterioration of [the] humanitarian situation and the cessation of hostilities," he said.

"They told us, however, their intention to remain in Geneva in the hotel and, possibly on my suggestion, to pursue the technical discussions with myself and my team."

De Mistura said the UN would review the current outcome of the talks at the end of the week and "then decide on how and when to move forward".

He described renewed fighting in contravention of a cessation of hostilities agreed in late February as "becoming particularly worrisome" and the provision of humanitarian aid as "going too slowly".

The gap between the regime and opposition delegates on political transition was "clearly wide", he added.

An opposition source, who asked not to be identified, said the delegation has asked to postpone the talks as the regime was not willing to start discussing political transition in Syria, one of the most contentious issues.

In a sign of possible disquiet within the HNC camp, just three delegates attended talks with de Mistura on Monday rather than the usual 15.

The third round of talks to resolve the Syria conflict began on Wednesday last week. The UN has been unable to give a date for face-to-face discussions between the two sides.

The government delegation joined the talks Friday following parliamentary elections in Syria two days earlier.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests. Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed, according to UN figures released months ago.

By Fatih Erel


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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