World News

Syrian Peace Talks Resume in Geneva

A second round of peace talks between delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition is underway in Geneva.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held separate meetings Monday with the two sides as he attempts to get them to commit to discussing issues such as setting up a potential transitional government and humanitarian aid in besieged areas.

Syrian opposition spokesman Monzer Akbik said during Monday's meeting with Brahimi, his side laid out their vision of a transitional government in Syria.



"We submitted also another paper talking about our vision to the political solution by transition to a transitional governing body, this is what Geneva communique says and the vision shows that a transitional governing body should be able, with the full authority, in a neutral environment, should be able to end the violence and take the country towards reconciliation and democracy."



A spokesman for Syria's opposition National Coalition, Louay al-Safi, also denounced what he said were the government's use of "barrel bombs", which the opposition says were responsible for the deaths of more than 1,800 people last week.



"It is not acceptable that the regime would send its own delegation to talk peace while it is killing our people in Syria. This must stop, we ask the international community to do something about it. "



Monday's talks follow an initial round last month that ended with little progress, but one that Brahimi called "a modest beginning" to build on. Following the meeting with opposition delegates, Brahimi met with the Syrian government delegation but no afternoon talks were expected.



Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that France is preparing a new draft U.N. Security Council resolution to help speed food and medicine to those in besieged areas.

His comments follow the evacuation Sunday of 600 people from rebel-held areas in the war-battered city of Homs.

The city's mayor said an aid shipment reached the city, despite snipers hindering the operation and reports the road into the old city was mined.

The International Red Cross said Monday that one driver was wounded Saturday when clearly labeled trucks from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered the old city and came under fire. The group called for all parties in Syria to protect health care and humanitarian personnel, and for access to all besieged areas in the country.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said she was disappointed by reports aid workers were deliberately targeted. She called it a stark reminder of the dangers civilians and aid workers face each day in Syria.

A year-long blockade of Homs by Syrian government forces has created severe food shortages, and the U.N. says 2,500 people have been stranded since mid-2012.

Also Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamist fighters killed at least 40 people Sunday in an attack on an Alawite village. The monitoring group said the attack happened in Hama province, and that the dead included at least 20 civilians.

More than 130,000 people have been killed and 9 million forced from their homes since the conflict began in 2011.

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