Syria Gov’t Joins Peace Talks Amid Clashes

Syria Gov’t Joins Peace Talks  Amid ClashesSyria Gov’t Joins Peace Talks  Amid Clashes

The UN’s special envoy to Syria met with a government delegation as part of peace talks in Geneva on Friday, as humanitarian workers warned that fighting in Syria’s north was triggering a new wave of civilian displacement. Syria’s UN ambassador, Bashar Ja’afari, said he had “constructive and fruitful” discussions with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura and said his delegation proposed “amendments” to de Mistura’s blueprint for negotiations, AP reported. Ja’afari’s brief comments to reporters suggested the government is still focusing on basic principles toward a political solution in Syria, and not yet willing to consider what de Mistura calls the “mother of all issues”—political transition away from President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. De Mistura met with delegates from the High Negotiations Committee, an umbrella opposition coalition backed by the US, Saudi Arabia and other western powers, later in the day. The discussions came as fighting escalated among pro-government forces, rebels and the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group throughout Syria, and especially in its north.