‘Syrian delegation to leave Geneva peace talks’

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Geneva, April 21 (IANS/AKI) The entire Syrian opposition delegation has decided to leave the United Nations-backed peace talks in Geneva after a fragile truce frayed in many parts of the country, Arabic satellite TV channel Arabiya said Thursday.

All members of the main Western and Saudi-backed opposition coalition will leave the peace talks by Friday, a source close to the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said on Thursday, Al-Arabiya reported.

The head of the opposition coalition, Riad Hijab on Tuesday called on the UN Security Council to take firm action against violators of the truce that took effect at the end of February, laying the blame with the Syrian government.

There must be a clear timetable for the political transition in Syria, which cannot include its president, Bashar al-Assad, Hijab said.

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“There cannot be a solution in Syria while Bashar Assad is present,” he stated.

As the attempts by world powers to bring Syria’s warring sides to the negotiating table teetered on the brink on collapse, airstrikes targeted two opposition-held towns in the northwest of the country, killing at least 44 civilians including three children, activists said on Tuesday.

Government warplanes also bombarded areas in the central Homs, including with barrel bombs and also bombed Hama provinces and in northern Idlib province amid intensified fighting, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five people were killed, including a child, in government airstrikes near Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.

The Syrian opposition alleges hundreds of government violations of the cease-fire agreement.

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