A UN peace envoy said a militant attack in Syria on Saturday was a deliberate attempt to wreck peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, while the warring sides traded blame and appeared no closer to actual negotiations.
Suicide bombers stormed two Syrian security offices in Homs, Syria, killing dozens with gunfire and explosions including the head of military security, prompting airstrikes against the last rebel-held enclave in the western city.
“Spoilers were always expected and should continue to be expected, to try to influence the proceedings of the talks. It is in the interest of all parties who are against terrorism and are committed to a political process in Syria not to allow these attempts to succeed,” UN mediator Staffan de Mistura said in a statement.
De Mistura has met the two sides separately in Geneva while while he tries to get agreement on how talks to end the six-year-old conflict should be arranged.
He has warned not to expect any quick breakthrough and to beware of letting the violence derail any fragile progress, as happened repeatedly in the past.
The militant rebel alliance Tahrir al-Sham, which opposes the talks — although it has fought alongside factions that are represented there — said that five suicide bombers had carried out Saturday’s attack.
It celebrated with the words “thanks be to God,” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.
Tahrir al-Sham was formed this year from several groups including Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was formerly known as al-Nusra Front and was al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch until it broke formal allegiance to the global militant movement last year.
After a meeting with de Mistura, Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afar spoke to reporters and repeatedly demanded the opposition condemn the attacks or face the consequences.
“If anyone refuses to condemn this terrorist attack then he is an accomplice of terrorism and we will deal with them accordingly,” Bashar al-Ja’afari said.
He ruled out leaving the talks, saying he would meet de Mistura again tomorrow, but he implied that some of the opponents that he had sat face-to-face with at Thursday’s opening ceremony were “sponsors of terrorism.”
Warplanes also carried out six raids on Douma in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, resulting in six deaths, and earlier, an air raid in Hama killed four people from the same family, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Basma Kodmani, a negotiator from the opposition High Negotiations Committee, said groups backing the talks had abided by the ceasefire, but she questioned the government’s commitment and whether Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was ready to pressure it to curb the violence.
After al-Ja’afari’s comments, the opposition condemned the attack, but accused the government of trying to use the events to derail the negotiations.
“We condemn all terrorist acts done by all terrorist groups. If the Homs operation was done by any of those, it is clear what I say,” lead negotiator Nasr al-Hariri told reporters.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies