Gov't offensive on Aleppo threatens Syria peace talks

GENEVA -- An aid convoy is en route to a besieged rebel-held town near Damascus, but Syria's opposition said Wednesday that such deliveries are meaningless while government troops launch an offensive on Aleppo, further undermining prospects for peace talks underway in Geneva.

See Full Article

The convoy heading to Moadamiyeh is the second humanitarian aid delivery to rebel-held areas near the capital in as many days, a spokesman for the International Committee for the Red Cross said. Pawel Krzysiek told The Associated Press that 12 trucks carrying food, medicine and medical equipment were expected to arrive later in the day.

The humanitarian situation in the town worsened toward the end of last year after the government choked off the last access point. Opposition activists and residents say there are dozens of cases of severe malnutrition in Moadamiyeh.

The aid delivery appears to be a confidence building gesture on the part of the government after UN-mediated indirect peace talks got off to a rocky start in Geneva this week.

The Syrian opposition had demanded that aid be allowed into 18 besieged areas throughout the country and that Syrian and Russian forces halt the bombardment of rebel-held areas ahead of the talks, which officially began Monday.

The latest aid delivery is a "positive development," said Basma Kodmani, a member of the opposition's negotiating team in Geneva, but "it is way below what we are hoping to see happen."

On Wednesday, pro-government fighters continued their offensive north of Aleppo, Syria's largest city, in an attempt to besiege rebel-held neighbourhoods. If the government succeeds, it will be one of the biggest blows to insurgents since they captured large parts of the city in the summer of 2012.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops and pro-government forces were fighting "fierce battles" north of Aleppo.

The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said hundreds of people have fled areas north of the city because of intense airstrikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the army is advancing against "dens of terrorists" in Aleppo, and that troops had retaken the nearby village of Oweinat.

Kodmani described the offensive as a "horrible development," saying the message the government is trying to send to negotiators is "there is nothing to negotiate. Just go home."

"We're not going home," she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Yet Syrian opposition figure George Sabra told AP that Riad Hijab -- a former Syrian prime minister who now heads the opposition's High Negotiations Committee, the largest opposition bloc -- will arrive in Geneva later Wednesday, after which the opposition will hold meetings on whether to continue or leave the indirect peace talks.

"We should take a decision in the coming two days," Sabra said.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has shuttled between the government and opposition delegations in Geneva. On Monday, he formally declared the start of what he calls "proximity talks" between the two sides, which would have the two delegations seated in separate rooms.

The talks are aimed at ending a war that has killed 250,000 people, displaced millions and left much of the country in ruins. The last round of talks broke down in 2014.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Car plows into parade crowd in New Orleans; 28 hurt

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW ORLEANS — Authorities on Sunday identified the man who allegedly plowed into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans while intoxicated. The New Orleans Police Department issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. Source
  • Trump not elected to spend time with reporters, celebs: Aide

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The White House says that when President Donald Trump skips the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, expect him to spend that Saturday night in April "focused on what he can to do to help better America. Source
  • 'I am proud to be here': 7 more asylum seekers walk into Manitoba, where it's –20 C

    Canada News CBC News
    Seven more asylum seekers risked dangerously cold temperatures as they walked across the Canada-U.S. border into Emerson, Man., early Sunday. CBC News spotted six men and a woman about 4:30 a.m. as temperatures dipped to –20 C. Source
  • Canadian school boards question trips to U.S. as travel ban debate continues

    Canada News CBC News
    Schools across Canada are grappling with the uncertainty of U.S. travel restrictions and how that affects upcoming student trips across the border. A travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and Syrian refugees may be on hold as it works its way through the U.S. Source
  • Actor Bill Paxton dead at 61

    World News CBC News
    Actor Bill Paxton, who appeared in Twister, Aliens and Titanic, has died, according to multiple reports. A number of U.S. media outlets are reporting that the 61-year-old died due to complications from surgery. At the time of his death, Paxton was part of the cast of the CBS television series Training Day. Source
  • Bill Paxton dies at 61 due to complications from surgery

    World News CBC News
    Actor Bill Paxton, who appeared in Twister, Aliens and Titanic, has died, according to multiple reports. A number of U.S. media outlets are reporting that the 61-year-old died due to complications from surgery. At the time of his death, Paxton was part of the cast of the CBS television series Training Day. Source
  • Syrian warplanes pound rebel-held area in central city

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Government warplanes pounded a rebel-held neighbourhood in the central city of Homs on Sunday, killing at least three and wounding dozens, Syrian opposition activists said, and President Bashar Assad's forces pushed ahead in Syria's offensive on the historic central town of Palmyra that is held by the Islamic State group. Source
  • Swedes puzzled over Swedish 'security adviser' on Fox News

    World News CBC News
    A transatlantic wave of puzzlement is rippling across Sweden for the second time in a week, after a prominent Fox News program featured a "Swedish defence and national security adviser" who's unknown to the country's military and foreign-affairs officials. Source
  • Canadian school boards question trips to U.S. amid travel ban debate

    Canada News CTV News
    Schools across Canada are grappling with the uncertainty of U.S. travel restrictions and how that affects upcoming student trips across the border. A travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries and Syrian refugees may be on hold as it works its way through the U.S. Source
  • Black History Month: How a Yukon miner's parents fled the KKK

    Canada News CBC News
    In 1920s America, the Ku Klux Klan was enjoying a resurgence in popularity, due in no small part to D.W. Griffith's 1915 movie The Clansman, later renamed Birth of a Nation. It depicted black men as brutish and violent, and found ready acceptance from the public, even being screened in the White House by an enthusiastic president Woodrow Wilson. Source