News / Middle East

    Damascus Suburb Blasts Kill 60 near Shi'ite Shrine

    Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Syrian opposition group at the Geneva peace talks, attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 31, 2016.
    Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the main Syrian opposition group at the Geneva peace talks, attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 31, 2016.
    VOA News

    A triple bombing in a southern Damascus suburb killed at least 60 people Sunday.

    Two suicide bombers detonated explosives as rescue efforts were underway after a car bombing in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Damascus, where Syria's holiest Shi'ite shrine is located. 

    The violence occurred before Syria's main opposition group met with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva. Mistura is attempting to get warring Syrian factions to the negotiating table for a political solution to the country's nearly five-year civil war.

    Before participating in peace talks with the Syrian government, the High Negotiations Committee is demanding an end to government sieges and Russian airstrikes in rebel-held areas.

    An HNC spokesman said Saturday the group is in Geneva primarily to talk about humanitarian issues, and only then would move to further negotiations.

    The U.N.-mediated talks that opened Friday are the first international effort for a peaceful settlement in Syria since the last round of U.N. negotiations broke apart in 2014 with little progress.

    An overview of the room where Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. mediator for Syria, and the Syrian delegation, led by Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari, opened the Syrian peace talks at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29,
    An overview of the room where Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. mediator for Syria, and the Syrian delegation, led by Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Jaafari, opened the Syrian peace talks at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 29,

    De Mistura has met with the Syrian government delegation headed by the country's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari.

    Kurds leave Geneva 

    Representatives of Syrian Kurds fighting against the Syrian government said they were not invited to join the Geneva meetings, and will not be part of the peace talks. Turkey opposed the Syrian Kurds' participation, contending they are linked to the Kurdish fighters who have fought with Turkey for 30 years over control of Kurdish-majority areas of southeastern Turkey. 

    The civil war in Syria has dragged on for nearly five years, killed a quarter of a million people and displaced millions more.The conflict has also seen the birth of the Islamic State militant group and triggered a massive wave of refugees to western Europe.

    The battles in Syria have intensified since September when Russia began airstrikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad, countering the efforts of opposition groups supported by the United States, some members of the European Union, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

    The complicated backdrop makes the peace process especially difficult.

    Residents help an injured man to walk after what activists said were three consecutive air strikes carried out by the Russian air force in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 12, 2016.
    Residents help an injured man to walk after what activists said were three consecutive air strikes carried out by the Russian air force in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 12, 2016.

    Significant gains for Assad's forces 

    With Russian support, Assad’s forces have made significant gains.Analysts say the government has little incentive to negotiate with an opposition that is weak and fractured.

    Despite the opposition coalition's move toward joining the Geneva talks, analysts are pessimistic.Nadim Shehadi of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston sees little chance of success.

    “We are pressuring the opposition to prove that they are united, coherent, that they have a strong leadership and that they have a vision, and a policy and a certain consensus on what the future will be," Shehadi said." And I do not think they do, I do not think they will in the near future, and I do not think they can.” 

    Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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    by: meanbill from: USA
    January 31, 2016 10:48 AM
    Crazy isn't it? .. that the US and their supported terrorist groups want a Russia and Syrian army ceasefire so they can continue to rearm, resupply, reposition their supported terrorist groups without fear of being killed, [but not at anytime], has the US and their terrorist allies offered their own ceasefire against the Russian backed Syrian army, so (all) the Syrian civilians in every Syrian city and town can get the aid and healthcare they need? .. From a position of military weakness, the US and the terrorists make terms, conditions, and demands for the Russians and Syrians to meet, (without offering to abide by those same terms, conditions, and demands), before they'll consider talking about a peace settlement in the Syrian war?

    Wouldn't it be more logical for all sides in the Syrian war to support a UN removal of all the sick, starving, old and crippled, and other civilians from the war torn cities and towns to safer places or countries elsewhere? .. Why just feed and give healthcare to them now, when they'll need food and healthcare the next week, the next month, and next year? .. Removing the civilians from the warzones, is the only logical solution to ending the sick, starving, old and crippled, and other problems the Syrian civilians face, [and it doesn't help the Syrian civilians at all], if the US and terrorists got a Russian and Syrian ceasefire so the US and NATO can rearm, resupply, reequip, and reposition the terrorist groups that they support?

    by: meanbill from: USA
    January 31, 2016 8:11 AM
    Crazy isn't it? .. The US and NATO are on the exact same side in this Syrian war, and demand a Russian and Syrian army bombing ceasefire, and also demand that the Russian backed Syrian army stop their military advances and withdraw their army surrounding key cities and towns so the US and NATO can (under the guise of feeding starving Syrians), rearm, resupply, reequip, and reposition the terrorist groups that they support, while the US, NATO and all the terrorist groups keeps on waging war on the Shia Muslim led government of Assad and Syria?

    A Wise Man said; "Why can't the US and NATO and the terrorist groups ask for a Russian, Syrian army, US, NATO, and their Sunni Muslim allies bombing ceasefire, [so the UN can remove any innocent civilians] that are starving or sick or want to leave, [and they can safely be removed from the warzones], to stop these same starving conditions from being repeated over and over again." .. If those sick and starving Syrian civilians were removed from the battlefield they wouldn't need the same food supplies and health care next week, next month and next year, would they? .. Why can't the US and NATO bargain honestly? .. Remove the people, don't feed and resupply the terrorists?

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