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UN: Syria Extends Humanitarian Pause in Homs

The United Nations say the Syrian government and opposition have agreed to extend a humanitarian pause in the beleaguered city of Homs for another three days.

U.N. Humanitarian Affairs chief Valerie Amos in a statement Monday welcomed the agreement that came days after she says U.N. and Syrian Arab Red Crescent workers were "deliberately targeted" in the city.

Amos says she hopes the humanitarian pause will allow them to evacuate more civilians and deliver much needed supplies to the area. More than 800 people have been evacuated from the rebel-held city since Thursday.

Meanwhile Monday, delegates from the Syrian government and the opposition opened a second round of peace talks in Geneva Monday.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met separately with the two sides in an attempt to set the agenda for discussing issues such as setting up a potential transitional government and humanitarian aid in besieged areas.

Syrian opposition spokesman Monzer Akbik said his side laid out its 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 followed 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.

A year-long blockade of Homs by Syrian government forces has created severe food shortages, and the United Nations 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 occurred in Hama province, and the dead include at least 20 civilians.

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

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