Geneva II begins with both sides of Syria blaming each other
Newscast Media GENEVA—A second round of peace talks between Syria’s regime and
opposition rebels has begun with the two sides trading blame for deadly violence.
Hundreds of people have been killed and food aid has been disrupted in recent days.
UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held separate closed-door meetings with
Syrian government and opposition representatives at the latest round of talks in
Geneva on Monday. The first face-to-face meeting between the two sides ended 10
days ago with little agreement.
“The negotiations cannot continue while the regime is stepping up its violence against
the Syrian people,” opposition spokesman Louay Safi (pictured) told reporters after a
90-minute meeting with Brahimi. “It is not acceptable that the regime will send its
own delegation to talk peace while it is killing our people in Syria. This must stop. We
asked the international community to do something about it.”
After one meeting, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad condemned the
reported massacre of civilians by Islamist rebel forces when they overran the central
village of Maan on Sunday.
“The number of those killed yesterday by the terrorist groups is over 50,” Mekdad told
reporters, adding that “four disabled people were slaughtered like sheep.”
The Britain-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that
21 civilians had been killed in the village, which is populated by Alawites, the same
Islamic sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. A further 20 village fighters
were killed trying to protect their homes, the Observatory added.
Safi, who presented Brahimi with a 1,000-page report on regime violence, said the
regime was using the Maan attack to shift blame onto others.
“Yes there are violations by some gangs … because of the political and security
chaos, but the primary responsibility lies on the regime,” he said, adding that the
opposition’s main goal in Geneva was to form a transitional governing body.
Mekdad said the regime would not discuss whether Assad might step down. “Please
tell those who dream of wasting our time here in such a discussion to stop it,” he
Russia, meanwhile, has proposed that the UN and Syrian factions join Moscow and
Washington for collective peace talks in Geneva.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle