By Mohamed Misto
ANKARA (AA) – UN-brokered talks at resolving the six-year conflict in Syria have reached a dead end due to refusal of the Syrian regime to discuss political transition in the country, an opposition negotiator said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Riad Hijab said that the Bashar al-Assad regime has evaded from discussing political transition during recent UN-mandated talks in Geneva.
“With every round of negotiations, the regime begins to escalate its bombardment and commit massacres against the [Syrian] people,” said Hijab, the coordinator of the High Committee of the Syrian opposition in negotiations.
Hijab said that the Syrian opposition has suspended its participation in the UN talks due to massacres committed by the regime against Syrian civilians.
“Any return to the negotiations would require creating a favorable climate, which currently does not exist,” he said.
“The Syrian people are still suffering,” he said, citing a recent escalation in attacks by the Assad regime.
“We have seen an unprecedented escalation by the regime and its allies Iran and Russia against the Syrian people, using banned weapons as phosphor and napalm bombs,” he said.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-battered country, according to the UN.
UN-mandated talks between the Syrian regime and opposition to look into ways of resolving the six-year conflict collapsed in late April.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday that the international body will not hold another round of Syrian talks until both sides agree the parameters for a political transition deal, which has an August 1 deadline.
"I have informed the Security Council just a few days ago ... The time is not yet mature for the official third round of the intra-Syrian talks," de Mistura said.
He said that a series of "low-profile" technical meetings, meanwhile, will be held in various cities to discuss issues ranging from the role of the Syrian army and national institutions after any peace deal.
“The first of August is attainable, should be attainable and we should be aiming at that one," de Mistura said.
Hijab further accused the Assad regime and allied Iran of stoking sectarianism in the region.
He also criticized attempts by Russia – which began airstrikes against Assad’s opponents in September -- to designate the opposition Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham groups as “terrorist” organizations.
“The two groups are defending the rights of the Syrian people and are working to remove the regime,” he said, going on to call on the international community to “show a real resolve to guarantee political transition” in Syria.