Syrian regime to not attend Geneva talks before elections

Syrian regime delegation for peace talks in Geneva will not attend second round of peace talks before parliamentary elections on April 17

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Head of the Syrian regime delegation to Geneva peace talks, Bashar Jaafari.

Bashar Jaafari, head of the Syrian regime's delegation, said he told UN Syria envoy Staffan De Mistura that his delegation will not attend the second round of peace talks before the parliamentary elections in Syria on April 13. 

The ongoing round of peace talks in Geneva, which started on March 14, will end Thursday, March 24. The next round is expected to start in early April.

However, Jaafari said earlier in the day on Wednesday that the Syrian regime delegation for peace talks will respond to a letter from the UN next month, at the start of the next round of peace talks.  

"Today, we received a letter from Special Envoy de Mistura. This paper will be carefully studied after we go back to our capital, and we will respond to it at the beginning of the next round," Bashar Ja'afari, head of the Assad regime’s delegation at the talks, told a press conference in Geneva after meeting with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

The UN estimates the death toll in Syria, since the war started as an uprise, to be at least 250,000, while the real number has now exceeded 470,000, according to the report which was released by the Syrian Center for Policy Research on Feb. 10.

A further estimate of 350,000 refugees have sought asylum in European Union countries since the war began in Syria in 2011.

Around 5 million others took refuge in neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkey hosting the largest number with around 3 million Syrians. 

Thousands are still pushing towards EU countries which has caused a global refugee crisis, urging for an immediate solution in Syria.

“Cessation of hostilities”

The talks ended abruptly last month amid a Syrian regime military offensive backed by Russian air power. Later, the US and Russia agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” deal that saw a dramatic reduction in fighting.

Syrian regime delegation has so far rejected any discussion of the future of Bashar al Assad, while opposition leaders insist on his departure as part of any transition in Syria.

The cessation of hostilities deal, not signed by any of the warring parties, remains fragile and diplomats are concerned that, after more than a week of talks, it is at risk of collapsing unless headway on the matter of political transition is made soon.

Asaad al Zoubi, head of the main opposition council's delegation, said on Tuesday it was "obvious" there were no points of convergence with the Syrian regime and accused it of renewing sieges and barrel bombing campaigns against civilians.

The UN humanitarian advisor on Syria Jan Egeland told reporters that the UN had received the green light for eight or nine of the 11 areas it had asked to deliver aid to, including three or four besieged areas.

However, the UN had not been given permission to access the towns of Daraya, where the World Food Programme has said some people have been reduced to eating grass, or Douma, both being close to Damascus city.

He also said a local agreement to end the siege of al Waer of Homs city had broken down, and that the UN would need to mediate.

"Indeed there are new areas of great concern," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies