The Latest: Syrian gov’t: No direct talks with opposition
GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria and the latest round of indirect peace talks in Geneva (all times local):
The Syrian government’s top envoy to the U.N.-mediated peace talks in Geneva says his team has not been asked to meet face-to-face with the opposition.
Bashar al-Ja’afari spoke to reporters after his final meeting with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura as this seventh round of indirect talks involving the warring sides since early last year was coming to a close on Friday.
Ja’afari alluded to foreign backers of the main opposition, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as smaller opposition factions.
He says that the “most important thing is for us (government) to have a national partner, and not a client for foreign agendas.”
A day earlier, de Mistura acknowledged that he was not “pushing” for the opposition and government delegations to meet directly until they could engage in “real” talks.
A Syrian first responders’ group says at least two people were killed in a barrage of airstrikes on the outskirts of Damascus as pro-government forces intensify efforts to push rebels away from Syria’s capital.
The Syrian Civil Defense group, more popularly known as the White Helmets, posted a video of rescue workers retrieving one of the victims from the rubble of a building on Friday.
It said at least one other person was killed and several people were wounded.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported ten airstrikes on opposition-held areas of the contested Ein Terma suburb of Damascus in the morning alone.
Local rebel commander Abdelnasser Shamir said on Thursday that the last four weeks of fighting over the suburb have been the “most vicious” in the conflict.