UN envoy defends Syria talks after Assad remarks

Syria conflict

The Syrian government forcefully denied it.

President Bashar Assad's top envoy met separately with de Mistura inside the compound later today.

Syria's six-year long civil war has killed at least 400,000 people according to the United Nations estimates, which also has estimated that half of all Syrians have fled their homes. "But I am not going to elaborate now", he said. Among those named were cousins of Assad.

A Syrian monitoring group says twin explosions have gone off in a makeshift camp near Syria's the border with Jordan, killing at least 10 people and wounding seven, including rebel fighters. "The recent working meetings between Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Beijing with the senior leadership of Russian Federation and the Turkish Republic showed that the two sides are actively working on various aspects of fulfilling this memorandum", Abdrakhmanov said on the sidelines of a government meeting, TASS reported.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that the United Nations can not independently verify USA reports of a crematorium in the Saydnaya military prison, where the US says the bodies of those executed are burned. "Regarding cremations, these are usually secret matters but not surprising".

Salem Meslet, an opposition spokesman, said it was "not right" that this round is expected to last just four days. He spoke at a demonstration outside of the UN Geneva compound led by women relatives of prisoners held in Syria.

Another round of negotiation talks between the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime kicked off in Geneva yesterday amid hopes of reaching a peaceful solution to the Syrian civil war.

Syria's government delegation, led by Bashar al-Jaafari, returned to United Nations headquarters Wednesday afternoon for a meeting with talks mediator Staffan de Mistura.

"We only believe in deals that are agreed upon here in Geneva - not in Astana", he said.

Mr De Mistura said on Monday he was "encouraged by the increasing engagement, the increasing interest, by the U.S. administration in finding a de-escalation".

The de-escalation of violence in Syria "cannot be sustained unless there is a political horizon in one direction or the other", he said.

Geneva "is merely a meeting for the media", Assad said. The deal was brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

It isn't clear who is behind the airstrike but various activists groups reported different casualty tolls, saying the US -led coalition, which is waging war on IS, was likely behind the attacks. Wael Abou Rayan, a media activist in the Homs countryside, said the bombardment of Homs eased since the agreement came into force, but never completely stopped. It said another 25 civilians were killed in Boukamal.

Video from the group showed rescuers pulling children from the rubble of a multistory building.

There is meanwhile little hope of a breakthrough, with the HNC continuing to insist on Assad's ousting as part of any political transition - a demand seen by the government as a non-starter.



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