UN envoy says Syria attacks aim to spoil talks
By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: March 16, 2017
The U.N. special envoy for Syria is condemning the latest "terrorist attacks" in Damascus on the sixth anniversary of the Syrian conflict, saying they are "plainly designed to spoil attempts to sustain political talks."
Staffan de Mistura said the attacks claimed the lives of innocent civilians and is again urging respect for the cease-fire in Syria, which he says "is being challenged by violations on the ground." He also is calling for an end to all attacks on civilians.
Suicide bombers struck the main judicial building and a restaurant in the Syrian capital on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people.
De Mistura announced a week ago that he intends to bring the government and opposition back to Geneva for a fifth round of
U.N.-led talks on March 23 to pursue an agreement on a transition to end the six-year war.
He said that following the latest talks on the cease-fire in Kazakhstan that the opposition boycotted and ahead of Geneva "actions by spoilers to undermine the political track must not be allowed to succeed."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said peace in Syria is "a moral and political imperative" that "cannot wait" as the country's civil war starts its seventh year.
In a statement on the war's anniversary Wednesday, Guterres called for the parties to "make the most of" a cease-fire that began Dec. 30 and to ensure humanitarian aid can reach needy Syrians. The U.N. has expressed concern about cease-fire violations and criticized the blocking of humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands in need.
Guterres also urged those with influence over the government and opposition groups to work together to end the conflict.