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WORLD NEWSSaturday 16 April 2016

Syria government team joins peace talks amid Aleppo clashes 

JAMEY KEATEN                   Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission                                  ers and the Islamic State
PHILIP ISSA                    of the Syria to UN New York, speaks to the media during a briefing after a round of negotiation                                group, according to the
Associated Press               between the Syrian government and the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staf-                                New York-based Human
GENEVA (AP) — The U.N.’s       fan de Mistura, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday,                             Rights Watch.
special envoy to Syria met     April 15, 2016.                                                                                                                Medicins Sans Frontieres,
with a government del-                                                                                                                                        also known as MSF or Doc-
egation as part of peace                                                                                                (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)  tors Without Borders, said
talks in Geneva on Friday                                                                                                                                     it was “extremely worried”
as humanitarian workers        The committee said it was     lution but it’s seeking a mili-  lamic State group through-                                      about their security and
warned that fighting in        distrustful of the govern-    tary solution that will bring    out Syria, and especially in                                    access to health care. The
Syria’s north was triggering   ment’s intentions.            destruction to the whole         its north.                                                      international medical relief
a new wave of civilian dis-    HNC representative Asaad      country.”                        Around 30,000 displaced                                         organization said it knew of
placement.                     al-Zoubi blasted the gov-     The discussions came as          persons have fled from their                                    just five operating hospitals
Syria’s U.N. ambassador        ernment for “sending a        fighting escalated be-           shelters near the Turkish                                       in the Azaz district, where
Bashar Ja’afari said he had    strong message that it        tween pro-government             border as battles intensified                                   much of the violence is
“constructive and fruitful”    doesn’t want a political so-  forces, rebels, and the Is-      between opposition fight-                                       concentrated.
discussions with Special En-                                                                                                                                  Muskilda Zancada, head
voy Staffan de Mistura and                                                                                                                                    of the MSF mission in Syria,
said his delegation pro-                                                                                                                                      said the situation on the
posed “amendments” to                                                                                                                                         ground “remains very un-
the de Mistura’s blueprint                                                                                                                                    predictable.”
for negotiations.                                                                                                                                             Opposition groups in the
Ja’afari’s brief comments                                                                                                                                     north are also under re-
to reporters suggested the                                                                                                                                    newed pressure from pro-
government is still focus-                                                                                                                                    government forces, which
ing on the basic principles                                                                                                                                   have launched a new
toward a political solution                                                                                                                                   offensive to besiege the
in Syria, and not yet willing                                                                                                                                 rebel-held part of Aleppo,
to consider what de Mis-                                                                                                                                      Syria’s largest city.
tura calls the “mother of                                                                                                                                     Commanders of the reb-
all issues” — political tran-                                                                                                                                 el Free Syrian Army said
sition away from President                                                                                                                                    government forces are
Bashar Assad’s rule.                                                                                                                                          preparing an offensive on
De Mistura met with dele-                                                                                                                                     Aleppo, and opposition
gates from the High Nego-                                                                                                                                     fighters are waiting to see
tiations Committee, an um-                                                                                                                                    if world powers can keep
brella opposition coalition                                                                                                                                   a tenuous cease-fire afloat
backed by the U.S., Saudi                                                                                                                                     before deciding whether
Arabia, and other Western                                                                                                                                     to continue supporting
powers, later in the day.                                                                                                                                     peace talks in Geneva. q

Islamic leaders pledge to combat terrorism, sectarianism 

DOMINIQUE         SOGUEL       conflicts.                    overcome our difficulties        aimed at increasing coop-                                       and “deplored Iran’s inter-
                               Turkish President Recep       without achieving unity in       eration against terrorism.                                      ference” and “continued
AYSE WIETING                   Tayyip Erdogan, who           spite of our differences,”       The Istanbul meeting drew                                       support for terrorism” not
                               chaired the final session     said the Turkish leader dur-     representatives from across                                     only in Syria but also Bah-
Associated Press               of the Organization of the    ing the closing ceremony         the Muslim world, including                                     rain, Yemen, and Somalia.
                               Islamic Cooperation sum-      after delegates took a           King Salman of Saudi Ara-                                       At the sidelines of the sum-
ISTANBUL (AP) — A two-day      mit, lamented the fact that   break to perform Friday          bia and Iranian President                                       mit, regional Sunni powers
                               Muslim countries who are      prayers. Erdogan also said       Hassan Rouhani, whose                                           Turkey and Saudi Arabia
summit bringing together       “the heirs of a civilization  the establishment of an          countries have squared off                                      signed a memorandum to
                               that was built on columns     international arbitration        in Yemen and Syria.                                             create a bilateral coop-
leaders of the Islamic world   of peace and justice are      body in Istanbul is part of      The final declaration ex-                                       eration council. The two
                               being remembered more         the OIC 2025 action plan         pressed hope that negotia-                                      countries are aligned in
concluded in the Turk-         for wars, armed conflict,     and welcomed a decision          tions that started in Geneva                                    their support for rebel fac-
                               sectarianism and terror-      reached a day earlier to         on April 13 would contrib-                                      tions opposed to the gov-
ish city of Istanbul with a    ism.”                         create a Turkey-based po-        ute to resolving “the Syrian                                    ernment of Syrian President
                               “As Muslims, we cannot        lice coordination center         crisis as soon as possible”                                     Bashar Assad.q
pledge to combat terror-

ism and overcome sectar-

ian divide.

The final declaration Friday

expressed strong condem-

nation of the Islamic State

group and the role of Iran

and its proxies in regional
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