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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Geneva peace talks on Syria are temporary suspended by UN

Syrian peace talks held in Geneva, Switzerland
(Image: DW)
The UN mediated peace talk on Syria being held in Geneva, Switzerland, were postponed on Wednesday, 3 February. The peace talks are aimed at ending the five year long devastating civil war in Syria which left more than 260 000 people killed and forced nearly half of Syrian citizens to leave the country. The civil war also fuelled rise of the extremist ISIS group in the region.

The peace talks were suspended by the UN and in accordance with the statements of the Syrian oppositional groups due to the continuous attacks of the Syrian regime forces against the rebel held territories what prevents the humanitarian aid and supplies to be delivered on the besieged territories.

During the Geneva talks Syrian governmental forces of Bashar Al-Asad, supported by the Iranian backed Hezbollah forces and backed by the Russian airstrikes, made an advance in their military offensive against the rebels. Asad's forces have encircled the city of Aleppo and took the neighboring towns and villages, previously controlled by the rebels' forces, while Russia continues its bombardments of the Syrian cities, mostly controlled by the rivals of Asad.

On Wednesday, 3 February, Syrian government forces backed by Russian airstrikes have cut the last supply route linking the city of Aleppo to the Turkish border, what prevented the possibility of delivery of any humanitarian convoys to the starving cities and causes the real humanitarian catastrophe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in his turn, stated as a response on the UN and US accusations of continuing deadly airstrikes and backing the Syrian regime that there is no reason for Russian to stop the bombardments until "the terrorists are defeated".

Bombed Syrian cities
(Image: News Latin Times)
Syrian oppositional umbrella group taking part in the peace talks, High Negotiations Committee (HNC), temporary withdrew from the Geneva talks due to the recent events and the inability to change the situation on the ground. UN representatives took the decision to suspend the talks as more work in this field is needed, both inside and outside of Syria. UN also called on the world powers and leaders to help to resolve the current crisis. The peace talks are scheduled to resume on 25 February.

US and UN representatives participating in the peace talks have strongly condemned the advance of the Syrian government forces and cutting the supply routes and also condemned Russian airstrikes that support the government regime and have already left thousands of civilians killed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, in his turn, stated that the talks have to be temporary postponed. He stated during his talk with the journalists: "I have indicated form the first day I want talk for the sake of talking". It's worth mentioning also that the representatives of the Syrian oppositional groups taking part in the talks, including the umbrella group HNC, voiced concerns and doubts over the possibility of the successful peace talks in Geneva on the current stage.

HNC in its turn stated that the group will not come back to the talks until its demands won't be met by the Syrian government forces. HNC insists on the immediate halt of the military operation and Russian bombardment of civilians, on the release of thousands of prisoners and on taking the immediate steps to allow humanitarian aid and convoys to the besieged cities and villages where people experience a real humanitarian catastrophe. The group stated it won't return to the negotiations until these conditions are met or at least some steps are made on the ground.

Buildings damaged by war in Aleppo
(Image: The Telegraph)
Representatives of Syrian government, pro-Asad forces taking part in the Geneva talks have already accused the regional powers such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey of pressure made on the Syrian oppositional groups what cause their withdrawal from the peace talks.

Syrian conflict has started in March 2011 as Bashar Al-Asad's forces violently dispersed the anti-government massive protests, what turned into the full-scale civil war and fuelled rise of the extremist Islamist organization known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), that controls currently the swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Syrian five year long civil war left more than 260 000 people dead, according to the estimations of the UN. More than 4,6 million Syrians are currently in the so called "hard-to-reach" areas including the areas held by ISIS, while more than 487 000 of those people are currently under siege. Nearly half of people of Syria were forced to flee the country since the beginning of the civil war and advance of ISIS.

Vienna peace talks aimed at the end of the violence and war in Syria have been held in Austria six months ago but failed. Geneva talks, currently postponed, are expected to resume on 25 February and are mediated by UN and the world's powers.

Meanwhile, the world leaders have gathered on Thursday, 4 February, in London, United Kingdom, in order to participate in the international donor conference to help Syria and the neighboring countries affected by the conflict.