.
.
.
.

Brahimi: Syrian talks haven’t achieved much

The international mediator says ‘we are moving not in steps, but half-steps’

Published: Updated:

The first day of face-to-face talks between Syria’s rival sides did not yield substantial results, International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told reports Saturday, adding that he hoped the discussions would eventually lead to aid supplies reaching the besieged city of Homs.

“We haven’t achieved much but we are continuing,” Reuters quoted Brahimi as telling a news conference after two meetings between the government and opposition delegations at United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

He said if an agreement could be reached on Sunday, a humanitarian convoy could move into Homs city the next day. He also said he planned to discuss on Sunday prisoner releases by the two sides. Brahimi said that he set out his plans in the morning meeting for the progress of the talks over the coming
weeks.

“The situation is very difficult and very, very complicated, and we are moving not in steps, but half-steps,” Brahimi said after a total of three hours acting as a buffer between the two sides.

The veteran diplomat is hoping to broker an end to the civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people and devastated Syria.

Louay Safi, spokesman of the Syrian National Coalition, said “introductory” discussions took place Saturday, which were the prelude for the start of negotiations Monday that will include the formation of a transitional government.

The ongoing peace talks were built on the basis on what has been agreed in Geneva 1 in Switzerland.

Safi emphasized that this includes the opening of humanitarian corridors and the release of 130,000 prisoners, including children and women.

Meanwhile, Syria’s air force struck rebel-held areas around Damascus and Aleppo Saturday, a monitoring group said, as peace talks were ongoing.

Government warplanes fired rockets at Qadam in southern Damascus and Talfita to its north, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Agence France-Presse quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.

Helicopters meanwhile struck Daraya, southwest of Damascus, using TNT-laden barrels, the Britain-based group with a network of sources inside the war-torn country added.

Rebels battled troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad on the frontlines surrounding several Damascus areas, including the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, it said.

The meeting in Geneva came after months of intense diplomacy aimed at bringing the two warring sides together, but the persistent violence on the ground underscored the challenges ahead in trying to end the nearly three-year civil war.

(With Reuters and AFP)