Syrian opposition meets in Saudi capital

Riyadh, Feb 22 (IANS/AKI) Syria’s opposition on Monday began talks in the Saudi Arabian capital ahead of United Nations mediated peace talks in Geneva, media close to the opposition reported.

The reports said the talks were expected to centre on the necessary conditions for a ceasefire allowing the resumption of humanitarian aid to besieged areas of Syria. As many as 13.5 million Syrians in need of aid, including six million children, according to the Red Cross.

Fighting has intensified in Syria during recent weeks and a Friday deadline for a truce was not observed.

A ceasefire and the resumption of aid deliveries has become a de facto precondition for substantive peace talks to start on a future government for Syria.

UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura 3 February announced a “temporary pause” in peace talks in Geneva after just three days.

Analysts said there were no tangible results achieved amid still wide disagreement between President Bashar Al Assad’s government and the opposition, exacerbated by airstrikes and a wide military offensive by Syrian troops and their allies.

Russia and the US are jointly chairing the latest round of peace talks which were due to resume in Geneva on February 25, a date De Mistura called “unrealistic” in an interview on Friday with a Swedish daily.

More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the five-year-long conflict. Some 11 million others have been forced from their homes, of whom four million have fled abroad – including growing numbers who are making the dangerous journey to Europe.



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