News / Middle East

    Syria to Allow Women, Children to Leave Homs

    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.
    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad gestures during a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 26, 2014.
    VOA News
    U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi says Syrian government delegates, at peace talks in Geneva, have agreed to allow women and children to immediately leave a besieged district in the central city of Homs.

    Homs is one of Syria's largest cities and has been pounded by government assaults to reclaim control from rebel forces.

    The breakthrough followed two rounds of talks Sunday between the U.N. mediator and representatives of Syria's government and the opposition.
     
    The early talks in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the release of thousands of prisoners, including women, children and the elderly, from Syrian prisons.   

    Brahimi told a press conference later Sunday the opposition has agreed to a government request for a list of detainees held by armed rebel groups.

    Brahimi said he will meet the two sides jointly on Monday. The idea of forming a transitional governing body might come up then.

    The Geneva II Talks

    • Delegates gather in Montreux, Switzerland on Jan. 22
    • Talks move to Geneva on Jan. 24 and will be facilitated by Lakhdar Brahimi
    • Syrian government delegation is led by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
    • Opposition delegation is led by Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmad al-Jarba
    Negotiators from the Syrian government and opposition met for the first time in Geneva Saturday after the process nearly broke down Friday.  It was an achievement for mediator Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, just to get the two delegations into the same room.

    The official goal of the so-called Geneva 2 talks is to form a Syrian transitional government, though analysts say the chances of achieving this are slim.

    Syria's conflict began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad before spiraling into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed well over 100,000 people and forced nearly 9 million from their homes.

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