Syrian government, opposition remain divided over Assad's role

Syrian government, opposition remain divided over Assad's role
A man walks near damaged shops after an airstrike on a market in the town of Maarat al-Numan in the insurgent stronghold of Idlib province, Syria April 19, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
5 years ago

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GENEVA — The Syrian government only agrees to a broad-based unity government, which would include current government members alongside representatives from the opposition and additional independent figures, said chief negotiator for the Syrian government Bashar al-Jaafari on Wednesday (April 20), after the main opposition which insists on Assad's leaving, walked out of the talks.

The opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) suspended its formal participation in the UN-brokered peace talks earlier this week to protest against the escalation of fighting and the restrictions on humanitarian access. However, it has kept a team of delegates in Geneva to meet with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and is continuing to press the government to accept their terms.

The opposition insists that Assad leaves power for a political transition, while the government maintains the president's future is off limits.

Abdul Hakim Bashar, head of the Kurdish National Council, told reporters that the worsening humanitarian situation is one of the main reasons for the HNC walking out of the negotiations. The Kurdish National Council is part of the HNC delegation and currently remains in Geneva.

"We will not return to the Geneva talks until the international community makes more earnest efforts to improve the humanitarian situation and the Syrian government shows a more sincere gesture by accepting political transition," he said.

Despite the HNC's withdrawal, talks between Syrian government negotiators and UN mediators have continued.

"The talks included the creation of a broad-based unity government, and plans to put pressure on neighboring countries regarding counter-terrorism in accordance with relevant UN resolutions," said al-Jaafari, after wrapping up a three-hour meeting on Wednesday.

(Reuters)