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Syria peace process in jeopardy as talks flounder

Agence France-Presse. Geneva / New Age Online

Syria's warring sides are due to meet Saturday in Geneva in a last-ditch effort to save deadlocked peace talks as fears grow the entire process could collapse.
UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi will hold a final meeting with both sides as the second round of the UN-brokered peace talks wraps up with the rivals further apart than ever.
They appeared to only agree on one thing: that the negotiations were going nowhere.
"We deeply regret that this round did not make any progress," said Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Muqdad, after meeting Brahimi on Friday.
Separately, opposition spokesman Louay Safi complained about the regime's failure to budge, acknowledging that "the negotiations have reached an impasse."
As the parties in Geneva failed to agree even on an agenda for their talks, the bodies piled up in Syria.
A monitoring group said Thursday that more than 5,000 people had been killed since a first round of talks began on January 22.
At least 47 people were killed Friday in a car bombing in front of the mosque in the southern rebel-held village of Yaduda, while the extremist ISIL group executed 27 people as rival rebels chased it from villages in the northern province of Aleppo.
The United Nations warned that more than 2,700 refugees had poured across the Lebanese border as the Syrian army carries out an offensive in the Qalamun mountains and heads towards the opposition-held town of Yabrud.
Thousands had already fled the town, but as many as 50,000 people were believed to still be inside.
Washington expressed outrage at the aerial bombings and siege of the city.
"We again call on all members of the international community, including Assad's allies, to make clear to the regime that it must immediately cease these unwarranted attacks that undermine the Geneva process and the prospects of peace in Syria," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said.




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