MESOP “FIN DE PARTIE” – Syria Developing: Opposition-Bloc Rebel Suspends Formal Involvement in Talks

April 18 – By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Syria’s opposition-rebel bloc has suspended formal participation in political talks in Geneva, although it is remaining for informal discussions.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the gap between the High Negotiations Committee and the regime delegation remained “clearly wide”:On Friday we will take stock of the discussions, review what we have come up with, having learned from every side their own positions, and then decide on how and when how to move forward on what is expected anyway to be a series of discussions on and off in order to focus on political transition.

In the past month, President Assad and his delegation have repeated dismissed any negotiation of a transitional governing authority. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi reiterated the line on Wednesday. Returning to the talks on Friday, the delegation head, Bashar al-Jaafari, said de Mistura should consider regime amendments to his text, making no reference to any possibility of a transition.

The Assad regime has also continued to refuse access to aid for some besieged areas, including the town of Darayya, southwest of Damascus.On Monday, Ja’afari said he had exchanged ideas with de Mistura on “important issues” but made no mention of a political transition.


The opposition-rebel coordinator, Riad Hijab, said earlier that it was unacceptable for talks to continue if the regime and its foreign allies maintained sieges and bombing of civilian areas.

Only three delegates met de Mistura for talks on Monday, instead of the usual 15, after a letter by rebel factions called on the bloc to “take firm and decisive stances towards the half-solutions being propagated…by the regime’s allies…and de Mistura”.“We asked for the postponement of talks, only a postponement until the conditions are right,” Mohammad al-Aboud, a member of the HNC, said.The HNC confirmed in a statement that a pause would be “a chance…to respond to the core subject of forming a governing body that has no role for Assad”.Over the weekend, another senior rebel negotiator, Mohammad Alloush of the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam, said attacks should be renewed on pro-Assad forces.On Monday, rebels and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa launched offensives in Hama and Latakia Provinces. The advances, following what rebels claimed were continuing Assad regime breaches of a February 27 cessation of hostilities, follow rebel-Nusra regaining of territory south of Aleppo city earlier this month.Meanwhile, regime warplanes bombed areas in northern Homs Province, causing civilian casualties in the town of Rastan and villages of Deir Foul and al-Houla.