Syria Daily: Opposition-Rebel Bloc Finally Arrives for Geneva Talks

January 31 2016 – Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Syria’s opposition-rebel bloc has finally arrived in Geneva for talks about a political resolution to the five-year crisis; however, it has threatened to leave if the “crimes” of the Assad regime are not addressed.The 17-member negotiating team and other bloc officials reached Geneva late Saturday after a delay of several hours over visa issues.

The bloc had held out from attending the talks, which began on Friday, because preconditions — ceasefires, detainee releases from regime prisons, and access to aid for besieged areas — were not being addressed. It changed its position when the UN agreed that discussions would focus on ceasefires and aid, rather than an attempt at “proximity talks” between the opposition and the Assad regime’s group, led by Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Bloc spokesman Salem al-Meslet said late Saturday:

We want the peace talks to work, but there is no seriousness on the part of the regime….

We are keen to make this negotiation a success. But we should ask the other side. The other side is pretending to represent the Syrian people. In fact, he is killing the Syrian people. Meslet said that the HNC would meet UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on Sunday to consider its preconditions.

On Saturday, a “concept paper” from de Mistura for UN monitoring of ceasefires circulated. The paper indicated that the mission would be restricted to areas with “appropriate local, national, and international security guarantees”. It would not monitor human rights issues, investigations of war crimes, or release of detainees.