Syrian opposition accuses government of stalling as UN talks end

GENEVA/BEIRUT (dpa), Albert Otti and Weedah Hamzah- The Syrian opposition charged the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with blocking progress at this week's peace consultations in Geneva as the latest round of UN-brokered talks drew to a close on Friday.
"There are two factions in the talks in Geneva: one wanting to achieve progress and the other always making excuses," said Yehya Aridi, a member of the Syrian opposition delegation.

The government team had "fabricated a pretext" by labelling all opponents of al-Assad terrorists, Aridi said.
The government's chief delegate said his side was mainly interested in the issue of terrorism, which is an additional agenda item in the process brokered by UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura.
"We urged him [Staffan] to get more involved in passing our concerns on the issue of terrorism and fighting terrorism to the Security Council and the international community," Bashar al-Jaafari said in comments carried by the official Syrian news agency SANA.
De Mistura was scheduled to brief the UN Security Council about the outcome of the talks at 9 pm (1900 GMT) from Geneva.
The UN diplomat made clear at the outset of the meeting on Monday that he expected incremental progress at best, and that a breakthrough would come only at a later stage.
This week's talks were held with a ceasefire holding in south-western Syria. It was brokered by the United States, which backs the rebels, as well as Russia, which provides military support to al-Assad's troops. Jordan was also involved in the partial truce deal.
The UN talks are meant to lead to an agreement on a transition government, a new constitution and new elections in the country that has been ravaged by war since 2011.
Syria's crisis began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.
The conflict spiralled into a multi-sided civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced about half the pre-war population of 22 million.
On Friday, seven civilians, including two children, were killed in regime airstrikes near the capital Damascus, a monitoring group reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that 15 other civilians were injured in the strikes on the eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus.
The bombardment is seen as part of a government campaign aimed at cleaning all areas surrounding Damascus from opposition rebels.

Saturday, July 15th 2017
Albert Otti and Weedah Hamzah

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