De Mistura to announce date for Syrian peace talks

UN Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura on Friday will announce date for Syrian peace talks to take place

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura arrives with his special adviser Jan Egeland to address the media after a meeting of the Task Force for Humanitarian Access in Geneva.

Updated Feb 26, 2016

The United Nations' Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told reporters on Thursday in a media conference after a meeting of the Task Force for Humanitarian Access in Geneva that he will on Friday announce a date for a meeting between regional powers in order to discuss a truce in Syria.

That follows a US-Russia proposal for a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria.

De Mistura abruptly aborted a first round of talks on Feb. 3, saying more preparatory work was needed from the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), led by the United States and Russia.

Since then Syrian regime forces - backed by Russia and Iran - have continued a major offensive against rebels around the city of Aleppo and the regime of Syrian autocrat Bashar al Assad and the opposition have both said they could support a US-Russian proposal for a "cessation of hostilities."

De Mistura said he would brief the UN Security Council on Friday and then announce a date for a new round of talks.

"I will announce tomorrow when the parties [will reconvene] and the new talks [will happen]," he told reporters, as he arrived for a meeting of the ISSG Task Force for Humanitarian Access.

Another ISSG task force, on ceasefires, will convene for the first time in Geneva on Friday, De Mistura said - an opportunity for diplomats from ISSG countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to say whether they endorse the US-Russian proposal.

Combatants are required to say whether they will agree to the "cessation of hostilities" in the five-year war by noon on Friday (1000 GMT) and to halt fighting on Saturday.

The war in Syria started in 2011 in the form of anti-government demonstrations, but later descended into a civil war between five main factions - the regime, the opposition, Al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, DAESH, and the Kurdish YPG militants.

According to recent estimates from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 470,000 people.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights has reported that more 180,000 civilians died between the start of war and January 31 this year.

About 4 million others took refuge in the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest number - over 2 million.

Thousands are still pushing towards European countries which has caused a crisis for the continent and led to added urgency to find a solution to end the war in Syria.

TRTWorld, Reuters