News / Middle East

    At Syria Talks, Ice is 'Breaking Slowly'

    A man carries a bag amid damage and debris in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 26, 2014.
    A man carries a bag amid damage and debris in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 26, 2014.
    VOA News
    U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said the United Nations and the Assad government are still negotiating sending aid convoy to rebel-held city of Homs during comments to the press in Geneva, where peace talks are being held.
     
    After Wednesday's sessions, Brahimi said he doesn't expect any substantive achievements by this Friday, when the first round of the talks is scheduled to end.  But he expressed hope for a more productive second round about a week later.

    "To be blunt, I do not expect that we will achieve anything substantive. I am very happy that we are still talking, but the ice is breaking slowly, but it is breaking,'' Brahimi said.

    He added that gap between the two sides remained "quite large," and said he was hopeful that Russia and the United States would exert greater influence to help bridge that gap.

    Brahimi said he hoped the warring factions will be able to narrow their differences in a second round of talks but he said whatever results that might be achieved will likely be minimal.

    "But, those people in Syria and those people here for three years have not met once.  they have sat together even once. And, so they do expect that there will be a magic wand that would enable us to resolve everything.  There are a thousand miles to cross and if we take the first step, this will be very good," he said. 

    Earlier in the day, the Syrian government and the opposition delegation announced a deal to use a 2012 Geneva communique as a basis for negotiations.

    Both sides, on Wednesday, announced their willingness to use the document, although there is disagreement over the next step in talks.

    One provision in the communique calls for the creation of a transitional governing body. Negotiators say the opposition wants to start talks by focusing on this provision while the government wants to address it near the end of talks.

    The government says it wants to focus on the issue of terrorism first. Still, opposition spokesman Louay Safi said it was a "positive step forward."

    Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insist he must leave power, while the Syrian government has said Mr. Assad's role is not up for debate at the peace conference.

    Also Wednesday, Turkish security forces attacked a convoy of al-Qaida-linked rebel vehicles in Syria in retaliation for cross-border fire on Tuesday.

    Troops opened fire on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant positions in northern Syria after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory during clashes between ISIL and the Free Syrian Army.

    Al-Qaida and Oil

    In another development, Western news organizations say the Syrian government is buying oil and gas from al-Qaida-linked groups that have seized control of some of those resources in Syria.

    The news organizations say militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the al-Nusra Front have used proceeds from oil and gas sales to finance their operations. The news organizations quote unnamed Western officials.

    The New York Times on Wednesday said opposition activists in Syria's oil region claimed militant groups were also providing fuel to the government in exchange for relief from air strikes.

    Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report

    Images from Syria

    • Smoke rises after what activists describe as barrel bombs are dropped by government forces in Daraya, near Damascus, Jan. 31, 2014.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds his weapon as he walks along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • A man and children sit around a fire in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • Men walk on the rubble of a damaged mosque in the besieged area of Homs, Jan. 30, 2014.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrian men helping a wounded man after a government airstrike in Aleppo, Jan. 29, 2014.
    • A woman stands along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • A man walks past damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014.
    • A girl and boy are shaken as they stand near a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • People walk on rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 
    • A young girl cries at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces, Aleppo, Syria, Jan. 29, 2014. 

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.