UN envoy: 400,000 killed in Syria's civil war

UN's Staffan de Mistura says around 400,000 people have been killed since start of Syrian civil war, adding that peace talks will continue next week despite opposition’s decision not to attend.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

A woman and child run through the aftermath of an air strike in Duma district, Damascus, Syria on September 28, 2015.

Around 400,000 people have been killed in Syria's five-year war according to UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura.

In an interview with RTS on Thursday, De Mistura said the peace talks will continue next week despite the decision of the opposition to leave the talks early.

Chief negotiator Assad Zoubi said all opposition members will leave Geneva by Friday, with little prospect of talks resuming unless the situation radically changes on the ground.

De Mistura said the opposition pullout is “fairly justified, because there are moments when one asks whether the ceasefire is holding.”

The delegation has called for a unity government, mainly in favour of Syria's Bashar al Assad, but there were no signs of accepting the demands for Assad's removal.

Critics have put forward claims on Twitter suggesting that De Mistura's support for Assad is the main cause for a lack of progress.

Opposition negotiator Mohammad Alloush said, "We say to Ja'afari [negotiator of the regime], if he wants a real national unity government, first he must release the 10,000 women in his prisons, and the tens of thousands more imprisoned there."

"And [he must] stop the massacres he is committing every day, so he can be a human with an ounce of nationalism. Then maybe the negotiations will resume."

A Western diplomat said the opposition pullback is “understandable” as “regime attacks on Syrian civilians” continue along with the ongoing besiegement and starvation tactics.

Syrians are seen among the wreckage of buildings after Russian airstrikes attacked civilian areas of Aleppo

Although world and regional powers sponsor the fragile cessation of hostilities that came into effect on Feb 27, it was left in scraps as the regime continued with air strikes and attacks over the past few weeks in civilian hotspots like Aleppo, Latakia and other areas.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura

De Mistura admitted that Assad’s “interest is to try to stay in power,” as he has shown no effort to drop the regime.

"Despite the negotiating tension, they all agree - all of them - that there must be a transition, that means a radical change," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies