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No headway made in Syrian flashpoints negotiations: mediator

Another round of negotiations regarding settling the violent situation in a Syrian town near the Lebanese borders and two Shiite towns in the northwest ended Friday without making any headway, a mediator familiar with the negotiations said.

A late night round of talks could take place in the hopes of agreeing on the pending negotiation points to settle the situation in the town of Zabadani, west of the capital Damascus, near the Lebanese borders, and the besieged Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa in the countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib, according to Mohammad Abu Qassem, a mediator familiar with the negotiations.

The negotiations are taking place in Turkey between an Iranian delegation and a delegation of the rebels' Ahrar al-Sham Movement.

A two-day truce went into force Thursday and was said to be a "good will" sign for the negotiations to be successful. The truce was later said to extend for a third day, but no confirmation were made.

In his Friday comments, Abu Qassem, secretary general of Syria's Tadamun (Solidarity) Party, who is a mediator on behalf of fighting groups inside Zabadani, said the talks ended Friday just hours before the end of the agreed-upon truce that due to expire Saturday morning.

The negotiations are about allowing the trapped rebels in Zabadani to withdraw to rebel-held areas in Idlib, much of which already under the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, as the Syrian army backed by its Shiite Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, have become in control of 85 percent of it.

In return, the rebels besieging the towns of Kafraya and Foa will allow the civilians in the town to leave and seek medical treatment in one of the hospitals of the coastal city of Latakia, the hometown of President Bashar al-Assad and the heartland of his Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Iranian and Turks are brokering the talks, which have been running for a while and resulted in a previous truce earlier this month, which was later collapsed.

Abu Qassem told Xinhua that the negotiations have not stopped even with the collapse of the first truce. He, however, expressed pessimism about a positive outcome of the fresh talks, whose thorny points, which have not yet been agreed about, were not disclosed to the media outlets.

Settling the situation in Zabadai is important for the Syrian army due to its strategic importance near Lebanon. Releasing the siege on the Shiite towns is also important as 40,000 people are currently trapped there with no proper medical attention, or even food.

Reports said that the Syrian army, which is so close to capture the entire Zabadani, paid heed to the negotiations for allowing the withdrawal of the remaining rebels in the town after the militants in Idlib threatened to fire 100 rockets on Kafraya and Foa.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 28Aug15]

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small logoThis document has been published on 31Aug15 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.