Syria opposition postpones peace talks as fighting surges
Syria's opposition is urging the United Nations to pause peace talks until Damascus shows it is serious about political transition, as rebel groups vow to strike back against alleged ceasefire violations.
With fighting surging around Syria's second city of Aleppo and negotiations in Geneva stalled over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, the opposition High Negotiations Committee has asked UN mediator Staffan de Mistura to put the talks on hold.
"No one can deny that the fighting which is takng place in some areas is becoming worrisome," de Mistura told reporters. "Our assessment... is that the cessation of hostilities is still holding in many areas."
The HNC delegation planned to remain in Geneva.
"A small delegation has come to meet [de Mistura] and to ask him to pause the negotiations until the regime shows it is serious about political transition and humanitarian issues," an HNC member told AFP.
HNC coordinator Riad Hijab said it was "unacceptable" for the negotiations to continue while Assad's regime continued to "bombard and starve civilians" in Syria.
|HNC coordinator Riad Hijab said it was 'unacceptable' for the negotiations to continue while Assad's regime continues to 'bombard and starve civilians' in Syria|
The ceasefire agreed in February dramatically curtailed violence across much of Syria, but the fresh fighting around Aleppo has prompted tens of thousands of people to flee.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 22 civilians were killed across the two sides over the weekend in divided Aleppo city - one of the highest single tolls since the truce began.
Negotiations are expected to resume on Wednesday, though it is not known if the Damascus government's team will stay in Geneva following the opposition's temporary withdrawal.