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01:44, 22 January 2018 Monday
08:04, 04 May 2017 Thursday

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First day of Astana talks ends without result
First day of Astana talks ends without result

UN envoy for Syria de Mistura says proposals to de-escalate conflict are under 'very serious discussion' in Kazakh capital

World Bulletin / News Desk

The first day of Syria talks in the Kazakh capital ended Wednesday without a breakthrough between the Syrian regime and opposition delegates, who withdrew from the talks citing Russian airstrikes on civilians. 

UN's special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told reporters that the organization was very concerned over "the reports of escalation in Syria, including, allegedly, reports of air strikes".

The envoy said the proposals to de-escalate the conflict were under "very serious discussion" in the Astana talks. 

"We are calling, therefore, for the immediate investigation and for immediate institution of measures to ensure that now no strikes are taking place and are halted," de Mistura said, urging all delegations to "press ahead tomorrow with de-escalation discussions and confidence-building measures".

Asked if the opposition would return to the talks, Mistura said there were “some incidents produced by one side or the other,” but the important thing was “to make sure that those incidents stop but also do not kill the opportunity for good news related to that”.

Earlier on Wednesday, the armed opposition withdrew following Russian attacks in Hama and Daraa provinces, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media. 

Before abandoning the talks, the opposition delegation submitted proposals for ending the fighting, the source added.

The Astana talks, which first convened in January, are running alongside UN-backed discussions being held in Geneva.

Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition, joined the Bashar al-Assad regime's allies Russia and Iran in sponsoring the negotiations after the assault on Aleppo in December.

Syria has been locked in civil war since March 2011. According to de Mistura, around 400,000 people have died in the conflict while half the population has been driven from their homes.



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