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Foreign-backed Syrian opposition boycotts talks with UN envoy in Geneva

12 May 2015 9:30


Syria’s foreign-backed opposition group, the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), says it is not attending ongoing Geneva negotiations with the United Nations special envoy to Syria.

Hisham Marwa, deputy head of the SNC, on Monday dismissed the talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura in the Swiss city as “unimportant.”

De Mistura began talks on May 5 with the participation of parties engaged in the Syrian crisis, including the Syrian government’s envoy to the UN in Geneva, Hussam Eddin Ala.

Marwa further criticized de Mistura’s decision to invite some 40 “dissidents, artists, civil society organizations and research centers” to attend the talks as a sign of his lack of seriousness.

“It became clear to us that he does not treat the coalition in a way that gives the impression that he is serious about finding a solution,” he said.

Instead of taking part in the talks, a member of the coalition will travel to Geneva to deliver two letters addressed to de Mistura and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“The letters lay out our vision for a political solution as well as our observations on de Mistura’s performance,” Marwa said.

In response, de Mistura said later on Monday that he has taken note of the coalition’s decision but still looks forward to the arrival of the group’s envoy to Geneva to hear the opposition’s points of view.

Previous UN-mediated talks on Syria, dubbed Geneva I and II, failed to reach a solution to end the four-year conflict.

The two conferences ended in failure after foreign-sponsored opposition figures in the talks refused to discuss widespread terrorism in the country and persisted in demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million have been forced to flee the country.

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