Ceasefire violations and Assad's abidance derail Syria talks

Ceasefire violations and Assad's abidance derail Syria talks
Video: There will be no peace talks as long as the Assad regime continues to violate a shaky truce and refuses to discuss Assad departure, the Syrian opposition has said.
3 min read
19 April, 2016

The head of the High Negotiations Committee [HNC] has said it will postpone "formal participation" in the peace talks taking place in Geneva because of escalating violence, repeated ceasefire violations and the regime's refusal to discuss the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Riad Hijab reiterated on Tuesday that the opposition delegation was pulling out of the talks indefinitely as the conditions on the ground were not conducive to a political process.

"There is no place for the ceasefire at a time when Iran continues to send troops to Syria and Russia continues to carry out air raids," Hijab said during a press conference.

"We will not accept a political solution that will keep this criminal regime in power. There will be no solution while Assad remains in power."

Hijab called on the United States to assume its "moral and humanitarian responsibility" towards Syria and pleaded for the rebels to be provided with more weaponry.

"The regime is targeting civilians with air raids, shells, barrel bombs, cluster bombs and chemical weapons. The UN must send monitors to Syria to observe ceasefire violations," Hijab added.

      Fghting in Aleppo has prompted tens of thousands to flee [Getty]

The peace talks came close to collapse on Monday, with the opposition announcing a pause in talks at the UN headquarters in Geneva, UN mediator Staffan de Mistura announced.

Chief opposition negotiator Asaad al-Zoubi told The New Arab that the HNC was pleased with the decision to pull out of the talks.

"We are fully satisfied at the moment. This decision has come right time and will bring tighten the bond between the opposition groups," Zoubi said.

"We did not come to Geneva to waste our time. The regime must be prevented from stalling and holding up the talks. We want to speed up to move towards a transitional government and we will not let the regime play around with the time factor."

HNC spokesman Riyad Naasan Agha told The New Arab that the decision to pull out of the talks was a result of a lack of humanitarian progress on the ground.

"The regime and its allies have brutally attacked Aleppo, Homs, Rastan and other areas," Agha said.

Syria's regime has said it was prepared to discuss the creation of a new unity government at peace talks in Geneva - but Assad's fate remains off limits.

Assad's chief representative in Geneva, UN ambassador Bashar al-Jafaari, had during previous rounds of peace talks insisted that any discussion of a political transition in Syria was premature.

"A broader unity government is the only topic of discussion here. It is not in our jurisdiction, it is not within our prerogatives to discuss the fate of Assad," Jafaari said an interview.

In spite of a truce brokered by the US and Russia and declared in February, the bloodshed has continued in the five-year conflict that has so far killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions.

Fresh fighting around Aleppo has prompted tens of thousands of people to flee the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 22 civilians were killed across the two sides over the weekend in the divided city of Aleppo - one of the highest single tolls since the truce began.