Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Syrian opposition seeks extension of current Geneva talks

Syrian opposition seeks extension of current Geneva talks

They are expected to focus on four separate "baskets": governance, a new constitution, elections and combating "terrorism" in the war-ravaged country.

"The United States is on record, has stated many times, that we are appalled by the atrocities that have been carried out by the Syrian regime", said Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East.

Later Wednesday, President Bashar Assad's top envoy met separately with de Mistura inside the compound.

The Syrian government forcefully denied it.

The HNC has continued to call for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad as part of a political transition, a demand seen as a non-starter by the Syrian regime.

"The Americans know what's going on in Syria now". Among those named were cousins of Assad.

However, monitoring groups have not verified the crematorium allegation.

The State Department released commercial satellite photos showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium.

"After the Astana meeting which took place and which we attended proactively, there has been some outcomes that we find extremely, potentially, promising and we want to connect, as much as possible, that outcome with some political horizon", de Mistura said.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that the United Nations can not independently verify USA reports of a crematorium in the Saydnaya military prison, where the US says the bodies of those executed are burned. "They noted several remarks without taking yet a final decision", the source added. "Regarding cremations, these are usually secret matters but not surprising".

Salem Meslet, an opposition spokesman, said today it's "not right" that this round is expected to last just four days, and says the opposition plans to ask for more negotiating time.

The UN peace talks will be held in Geneva, on Monday, Staffan de Mistura informed press on the intention to be "more businesslike, both in our meetings and in the way we hope we can get some progress".

Iran is a close ally of the Syrian government.

The UN is attempting to mediate a partial end to a conflict that has killed more than 300,000 people and made millions of Syria's population homeless or refugees, and devastated the country's political, social and economic infrastructure.

United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura met with Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari on May 16, followed by the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

The alternative to peace talks is "no discussion (and) no hope", he said.

Mr De Mistura said on Monday he was "encouraged by the increasing engagement, the increasing interest, by the United States administration in finding a de-escalation". "That is exactly what we are pushing for", he said.

In an interview on Thursday with Belarussian state TV, Assad said the talks are "merely a meeting for the media" and "there is nothing substantial in all the Geneva meetings".

Syrian activists, meanwhile, said government forces were escalating attacks on opposition-held areas protected under a recently brokered cease-fire.

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