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Geneva II begins with both sides of Syria blaming each other



by Joseph Earnest  February 10, 2014


Newscast Media GENEVA—A second round of peace talks between Syria's regime and opposition rebels has begun with the two sides trading blame for deadly violence. Hundreds of people have been killed and food aid has been disrupted in recent days.


UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held separate closed-door meetings with Syrian government and opposition representatives at the latest round of talks in Geneva on Monday. The first face-to-face meeting between the two sides ended 10 days ago with little agreement.

"The negotiations cannot continue while the regime is stepping up its violence against the Syrian people," opposition spokesman Louay Safi (pictured) told reporters after a 90-minute meeting with Brahimi. "It is not acceptable that the regime will send its own delegation to talk peace while it is killing our people in Syria. This must stop. We asked the international community to do something about it."

After one meeting, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad condemned the reported massacre of civilians by Islamist rebel forces when they overran the central village of Maan on Sunday.

"The number of those killed yesterday by the terrorist groups is over 50," Mekdad told reporters, adding that "four disabled people were slaughtered like sheep."

The Britain-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 21 civilians had been killed in the village, which is populated by Alawites, the same Islamic sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. A further 20 village fighters were killed trying to protect their homes, the Observatory added.

Safi, who presented Brahimi with a 1,000-page report on regime violence, said the regime was using the Maan attack to shift blame onto others.

"Yes there are violations by some gangs ... because of the political and security chaos, but the primary responsibility lies on the regime," he said, adding that the opposition's main goal in Geneva was to form a transitional governing body.

Mekdad said the regime would not discuss whether Assad might step down. "Please tell those who dream of wasting our time here in such a discussion to stop it," he said.

Russia, meanwhile, has proposed that the UN and Syrian factions join Moscow and Washington for collective peace talks in Geneva.     Add Comments>>


Source: Radio Deutsche Welle










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