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.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Missing head from Jesus statue returned, says priest

    Canada News CBC News
    The original head belonging to a statue of Jesus at a Sudbury, Ontario church has been returned. The statue of Mother Mary and baby Jesus received international media attention after the head was reportedly stolen, then replaced with a bizzare, incongruous red terracotta head created by a local artist. Source
  • Seven banks, $70K: Officials follow 'tourists' on NYC drug cartel drop-offs

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- In the photos, Alejandra Salgado and her little brother Francisco look like ordinary tourists strolling the streets of midtown Manhattan. He carries a shopping bag. She wears a white dress, a necklace and a leather tote slung over one shoulder. Source
  • Muskrat Falls protesters 'fighting for land and food'

    Canada News CBC News
    Protesters who broke through a gate and entered the Muskrat Falls work site in central Labrador Saturday night say they were proud to make their voices heard.Muskrat Falls workers bused out after protesters occupy site in Central LabradorProtesters march on Muskrat Falls site in final effort to stop reservoir floodingToby Williams was one of the protesters who walked into the site of the hydroelectric project with a group of others on Saturday. Source
  • Oland's Supreme Court bail case likely to proceed, despite appeal court ruling

    Canada News CBC News
    Dennis Oland's bail appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to proceed on Oct. 31, even if a decision from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal on his second-degree murder conviction makes the hearing a moot point for him. Source
  • Oland's Supreme Court bail case expected to proceed, no matter what happens with murder conviction ruling

    Canada News CBC News
    Dennis Oland's bail appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to proceed on Oct. 31, even if a decision from the New Brunswick Court of Appeal on his second-degree murder conviction makes the hearing a moot point for him. Source
  • University groups try to stave off offensive Halloween costumes

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Geishas are out. Feathered headdresses are forbidden. And if you're planning to wear a Bill Cosby or Caitlyn Jenner costume, you may not be welcome at your Halloween party of choice. A growing number of institutions are starting to take a more proactive approach to potentially offensive outfits by developing strategies and even explicit policies to prevent people from donning controversial getups. Source
  • Widows of Boko Haram victims say aid overdue to Nigeria

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- After her husband was killed by a Boko Haram suicide bomber late last year, Hajjagana Mbasaru was forced to pull her children from school and rely on friends to feed them. Like other widows of civilians fighting the Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria, she spent long months waiting for any kind of government support. Source
  • Thousands flood Cameroon hospitals in search of injured from train crash

    World News CTV News
    YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- Thousands of Cameroonians have been flooding hospitals in the capital, Yaounde, and the largest city, Douala, looking for corpses and survivors after an overloaded train derailed Friday, killing more than 70 people and injuring 600. Source
  • Russian police kill 2 terror suspects, recover bomb: reports

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Russian news reports say police have killed two suspected terrorists in a shootout in a central Russian city and that a bomb was found in the suspects' car. The reports on state television and state news agencies RIA Novosti and Tass said the shooting started Sunday afternoon when police stopped a suspicious vehicle in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 400 kilometres (250 miles) east of Moscow. Source
  • Trump's agenda overshadowed by lawsuit threats, accusations, personal spats

    World News CTV News
    GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- Donald Trump is laying out an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days as president but pointedly noting that he will find time to sue the numerous women who have accused him of groping and other unwanted sexual behaviour. Source