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Hopes dim at UN negotiations as Assad's crematorium sparks outrage

Staffan de Mistura

Rival Syrian delegations on Wednesday weighed a UN proposal on developing a new constitution for the war-ravaged country, as a new round of peace talks entered a second day, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The sixth round of UN-backed negotiations in Geneva is the latest drive to bring a political solution to the conflict which has claimed more than 320,000 lives since 2011.

The talks opened with tensions high over a US charge that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was using a prison crematorium to hide evidence of thousands of murdered detainees.

The opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has said it has "reservations" about the draft, which it are expected to discuss with talks mediator Staffan de Mistura later Wednesday.

An opposition source said that the HNC had submitted a list of questions on the document to the UN, including on what "prerogatives" the new committee would have.




"This paper was a surprise -- it was not expected in the first place," the HNC's Munzer Makhos said.

"We don't know what the aim is or how it will be implemented. We don't want there to be more committees outside of our control."

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

While the HNC has insisted on Assad's ouster as part of any political transition, the government sees this demand as a nonstarter.

The back-to-back meetings on Tuesday were brief, in line with de Mistura's pledge to keep the talks "rather business-like, rather short".

Hopes for a breakthrough remain dim, particularly after US claims of new regime atrocities at the notorious Saydnaya prison near Damascus.

Satellite images released by the US State Department appeared to support earlier claims by rights groups that Saydnaya is an execution center.

The HNC has said Washington's accusations about Saydnaya demand a response from the United States and other friendly nations, but also called on Russia to take action.

The UN meanwhile confirmed that de Misura met earlier Wednesday with Russia's deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov. Jaafari met Gatilov in Geneva on Tuesday.

Last Modified: Wednesday، 17 May 2017 06:58 PM
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