UN envoy talks cease-fire with Syrian regime

UN Syrian envoy meets with Assad regime's foreign minister in Damascus to discuss cease-fire and humanitarian access to besieged areas

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Foreign minister of Syrian rejime, Walid al-Moallem, second right, meets UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, second left, in Damascus.

The UN Syria special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, met with Syrian regime’s Foreign Minister Walid al Moualem in Damascus, to discuss a cease-fire and “unhindered” humanitarian access to besieged populations across the country, a UN spokesman said.

The UN envoy was due to meet Moualem for a second time later in the day in Damascus to hold talks over the sustaining peace talks planned for Feb. 25, after the first round was delayed last week, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi stated.

"We are witnessing a degradation on the ground that cannot wait," Fawzi told a press briefing in Geneva. "The reason he suspended them was, as you know, that cities were still being bombed, people were still being starved on the ground."

World powers agreed in Munich last Friday to implement a "cessation of hostilities" and to allow humanitarian aid to besieged areas in Syria. Despite the agreement, Russia and Syrian regime forces continued to attack opposition and kill civilians.

"You can't force people to come to the table to talk peace. Of course there are those with influence over the parties, and that's what he is trying to do, convince those with influence on the parties to put pressure on the parties involved to come to the table, and to stop this madness," Fawzi said.

Turkey and France on Monday condemned Russian air strikes that killed 50 civilians in Syria and described them as war crime. Turkey has also warned YPG militants and said they would face the "harshest reaction" if they attempted to capture Azaz, a town close the Turkish border.

UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, condemned Russian air strikes on hospitals and schools in Idlib and Aleppo.

"If it's deliberate, intentional targeting, then it may amount a war crime. But at this point, we're not in a position to make that judgment. Ultimately that's only a court that can make that judgment, and you need sufficient evidence," he said.

"So I can't point the finger, but clearly Russian and Syrian planes are very active and we would urge those who are dropping bombs and missiles out of the sky to take far more care because the number of hits on civilians is just astronomical since this conflict began," Colville said.

"Clearly those two, both Russian and Syrian planes, are very active in this area. So obviously they should know who is responsible."

International humanitarian law underlines that hospitals and medical personnel must be protected, Colville emphasised.

"It's completely outrageous, all the norms and rules and standards on conduct of warfare have just been swept aside in Syria. Everything you can think of has been broken."

TRTWorld and agencies