News / Middle East

Syria Peace Conference Likely Off Until July

A member of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad erects a Syrian flag atop of a gate in Qusair, June 5, 2013.
A member of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad erects a Syrian flag atop of a gate in Qusair, June 5, 2013.
VOA News
The United Nations special representative for Syria says an international peace conference to end the civil war likely will not take place until July because the two sides in the conflict are unprepared to commit to a diplomatic solution.

Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday he will chair a second round of preparatory talks on June 25, after Russian, U.S. and United Nations officials meeting in Geneva Wednesday failed to resolve questions about the proposed peace negotiations.

The announcement came after Syrian government forces seized control of the strategic border town of Qusair after a three-week offensive, vowing to "crush" the rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The army said Wednesday the development is a "clear message" to all those opposing Syria, while outgunned rebels confirmed their withdrawal from Qusair, which they had held for more than a year.

Abu Rami, an opposition activist in nearby Homs, said "emergency evacuations" were needed from Qusair and called for international aid agencies to move in urgently.

"One-thousand casualties - including civilians and members of [the Free Syrian Army] - in addition to 20,000 people - including families, women, children and elderly - are trapped in al-Qusair," he said.

Rami accused pro-government forces of indiscriminately using air power, mortars and rocket fire against civilians to force the rebel withdrawal.

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Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Qusair is on a key highway linking the Syrian capital, Damascus, to the Mediterranean coast, and is close to rebel smuggling routes along the Lebanese border.

Syrian forces were aided by hundreds of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in the offensive.

With Hezbollah directly involved in the fight, international powers have raised concerns about the spread of the Syrian conflict. Last week, the U.N. Human Rights Council approved a resolution condemning Mr. Assad's government for using "foreign fighters" in Qusair.

  • Smoke rises from a fire as a result of fighting in the the Syrian village of Quneitra near the border with Israel, as seen from an observatory near the Quneitra crossing, June 6, 2013.
  • Soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stand on a damaged street full of debris in Qusair, June 6, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC shows a poster of late Syrian President Hafez Assad on a garbage truck, in Aleppo, Syria, June 6, 2013.
  • Pro-government fighters and tanks in Qusair, after the Syrian army took control of the city from rebel fighters, June 5, 2013.
  • Homemade weapons left by Syrian rebels are pictured, after the army seized control of the city of Qusair and the surrounding region in Syria's central Homs province.
  • Syrian army soldiers with their weapons in the city of Qusair, June 5, 2013.
  • Supporters of Hezbollah distribute sweets as they celebrate after the Syrian army took control of Qusair with Hezbollah's support from rebel fighters, in the Shi'ite town of Hermel, Lebanon, June 5, 2013.
  • In Raqqa province, a boy lights candles for a sit-in in solidarity with those in Homs, June 4, 2013.
  • Syrian rebels prepare to fire locally made rockets in Idlib, northern Syria, June 4, 2013.
  • A handout picture released by the Shaam News Network shows rebel fighters manning an anti-aricraft gun near Hama, Syria, June 4, 2013.
  • Syrian refugee children attend class at a new school at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, near the border with Syria, June 4, 2013.

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Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
June 05, 2013 4:45 PM
The top priorities are the delivery of humanitarian aid to trapped civilians and evacuation of wounded. Both the US and Russia need to bring pressure on their respective groups to ensure these activities can take place. Unfortunately, on their own, neither side is prepared to ensure these two activities can take place in a secure environment.

by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
June 05, 2013 9:39 AM
This is a great opportunity to severely bleed Hezbollah in asymmetrical warfare by our good friends in the Syrian rebellion. It doesn't take a blind man to see that Hezbollah lines are clearly overstretched into Syria proper.

One should never pass up a chance to sock it to these Iranian paid gangsters.this is an easy gimme. take the gimme.(opportunities like this don't come around that often)

by: Anonymous
June 05, 2013 5:27 AM
Anyone in opposition of Bashar al Assad is referred to as terrorists. But yet Bashar has killed more innocent civilians and opposition than anyone. He has destroyed the entire country and has tried terrorizing a nation to like him. News for Bashar, it isn't working, most of your country want you held accountable for the destruction and murder of thousands, affecting millions and millions of people. Once Bashar faces his crimes by the New Syria, then the Syrians will be happy along with billions around the globe.

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