Parties to Syrian conflict bicker as civilians suffer

Chances of reaching a political solution for the six-year war at the ongoing Geneva talks appear slim, as opposition and regime delegates struggle over the agenda and the United States' saying it no longer wants Bashar al Assad to step down.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

The United Nations says more than five million people have fled the war in Syria. Most of them are scattered in camps in different countries.

When  Staffan de Mistura, the United Nation's special envoy for Syria, showed up late for the talks being held in Geneva to end the conflict, it didn’t miss the attention of journalists.

"This used to be a bustling event with many more meetings, stakeouts and even sudden night-time consultations," says Ediz Tiyansan, TRT World's correspondent covering the fifth round of talks that have been continuing for the past week. 

"But none of that seems to be happening this time."

Mistura has been busy with other engagements for most of the week that saw the Syrian opposition and the regime struggling to even decide what issues to discuss.

The regime of Bashar al Assad wants to focus on counter-terrorism measures while the opposition is pressing for elections.

Meanwhile, the number of Syrians who have fled their country after six years of civil war has surpassed the 5-million mark, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

And the war shows no sign of letting up, especially with the shifting positions of the different parties involved.

The Syrian opposition on Thursday once again rejected "any role" now or in the future for Assad in the Syrian government.

But on the other hand, the United States now says his departure is no longer a priority to end the conflict.

"The opposition will never accept any role for Bashar al Assad at any phase ... there will be no change in our position," said Monzer Makhos, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), composed of key Syrian opposition groups in Geneva.

Since the start of the conflict in March 2011, the United States has backed the opposition fighting against the Assad regime and declared that the Syrian strongman must step down.

But on Thursday, the US ambassador to the United Nations in New York said the new administration of President Donald Trump is no longer focused on ousting Assad.

"You pick and choose your battles," Nikki Haley told reporters. "And when we're looking at this it's about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out."

Haley said the US would focus on the push for a political solution to the conflict.

TRTWorld and agencies