Syrian opposition in disarray after senior negotiator quits

The Syrian opposition delegation at the stalled peace talks in Geneva is in disarray after a senior negotiator resigned, and the future of the delegation chief appeared uncertain.

Syrian opposition senior negotiator Mohammad Alloush announced his resignation late Sunday, citing what he saw as the futility of the UN-led Geneva process to end the country's civil war.

Alloush is a leading official of the Islamist rebel group Jaish al-Islam. He was titled "chief negotiator" to highlight his high rank, though Asaad al-Zoubi has led the opposition team in Geneva.

"There is a possibility that Asaad al-Zoubi would resign, but so far he did not announce it," Samir Nashar, a member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, the main Syrian opposition bloc, told dpa Monday.

"We all think these negotiations are a waste of time, and the regime is not implementing any resolutions taken by the international community."

The Syrian opposition walked out of peace talks last month in Geneva in protest at an increase in fighting and the alleged blocking of humanitarian and medical aid by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Alloush had angered regime delegates in April when he called on armed rebels to retaliate against government forces for alleged violations of a truce.

The next round of Syria peace talks will not be launched before mid-June, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura told the Security Council on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that Russian airstrikes had killed at least 14 people in the north-western city of Idlib, which is held by an alliance of al-Qaeda fighters and mostly hardline Islamist rebels.

Russia had announced a temporary pause Wednesday in its air campaign in support of al-Assad's forces in order, saying it wanted to give rebels who have signed up to the truce an opportunity to break their links with Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.

Moscow did not say how long the pause would last. Rebels have accused Russia of repeatedly targeting more moderate groups, while the United States has conceded that battlefield alliances between al-Nusra and other rebels have complicated implementation of the truce.

The Syrian conflict, which began with peaceful protests in March 2011, has spiralled into a multi-sided civil war with a death toll of some 250,000 and half the country's population displaced, according to UN estimates.

Last update: Tue, 31/05/2016 - 10:41
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