Syria peace talks nearly collapse on first day

Syria peace talks nearly collapse on first day
Wed Jan 22, 2014 22:50:41

Long-shot peace talks intended to bring an end to Syria’s vicious civil war have been on the verge of collapse before they even really began.

The U.S. and Syrian opposition opened the conference in Montreux, Switzerland on Wednesday, by saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must relinquish power, the New York Daily News reported.

That provoked a fiery response from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who went on slamming the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and blaming foreigners and terrorists for the bloodbath that has killed more than 130,000.

“You live in New York. I live in Syria,” he told UN chief Ban Ki-moon. “I have the right to give the Syrian version here in this forum. After three years of suffering, this is my right.”

The two sides seemed impossibly far apart a mere three hours into the talks.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - support the militants operating inside the country.

The brutal war in Syria has forced millions to flee to massive refugee camps in neighboring countries.

The militant side has come to be denominated by factions aligned with al-Qaeda.

Tallies of the death toll now come from the opposition after the UN abandoned its own efforts to calculate the carnage.

More than 11,000 children have died in the conflict.

Later this week in Geneva, Syria's warring sides will sit down for their first face-to-face meeting since the conflict erupted.


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