Syria Talks in Final Day as Tensions Boil over US Strike

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

"For us, as the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic, the official meetings with the Special Envoy has ended at this moment and de Mistura as the special envoy will follow his contacts and meetings but this is another matter", al-Jaffari said in a press statement following the end of the session.

US President Donald Trump's government has been accused of terrorism.

"In every meeting we remind the attendees that there is terrorism by terrorists and also terrorism by states committed against our country", al-Ja'afari said.

Gatilov, who the agencies said was speaking in Geneva, said the strike had violated Syria's sovereignty and would not help efforts to find a political solution to the conflict there.

Dubbed as "proximity talks" in which government and opposition delegations are not expected to speak face to face, the latest gathering marks the third round in 2017.

Separately, the USA military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government that posed a threat to US and U.S. -backed Syrian fighters in the country's south, US officials told Reuters. The process was not without a hitch, though, as the representatives of the of the Syrian Free Army, the largest opposition grouping, said on Thursday night they were suspending their participation in the talks.

The last day of the consultations was marred by a strike the pro-Washington coalition delivered at a column of government forces.

But by morning, the HNC said its delegation would be taking part in the meeting with the United Nations envoy "in full".

The Syrian government, which has launched an offensive in the country's south backed by its allies militias such as Iranian paramilitaries and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, has vowed to reach the border area with Iraq.

A military source on the Syrian government side said the air strike had hit "one of our military points", without elaborating, Syrian state TV reported. Media reports and doctors in the area said some of the killed, which included women and children, were beheaded and others dismembered. It identified residents as members of Assad's Alawite sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has been meeting separately with Syrian government and opposition delegations this week during the latest round of talks, hoping to bridge gaps between the rival sides, while ensuring any outcome is consistent with previously adopted U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Opposition spokesman Salem Meslet says talks are focusing on "the constitutional ground for a political transition process based on the formation of a body with full executive powers".

The villages are located near the town of Salamiyeh and the highway that links the capital, Damascus, to the northern city of Aleppo, but state media said traffic was not affected.

Syria's state news agency SANA said troops and pro-government gunmen repelled the IS attack on villages in Hama province.

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