Jaish al-Islam Representative Quits Geneva Talks
Mohammad Alloush, chief peace negotiator of the Syrian opposition, said on Sunday he was resigning at the failure of the Geneva peace talks to provide access to besieged areas and find a political settlement to the Syrian conflict.
The peace talks, Alloush said in a statement sent to Reuters, had failed to secure the release of political detainees, one of the main demands put forward by the opposition. The negotiator also criticized the peace talks for failing to formulate a plan for a political transition in the country without President Bashar al-Assad.
Alloush, who is the representative of the rebel group Jaish al-Islam in the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said that as long as the opposition’s demands were not being met, the peace talks were a “waste of time,” and predicted that while the Assad government remained unprepared to engage in “serious negotiations,” the talks would not resume.
Alloush’s resignation was accepted during a meeting of the HNC, headed by chief coordinator Riad Hijab in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The United Nations has not yet set a date for the next round of peace talks, with special envoy Staffan de Mistura saying in a statement last week that there will be no talks on Syria for the next two to three weeks.
The HNC formally suspended its participation in peace talks in April as truce violations continued in northern parts of the country.
Inmates Capture Hama Prison Chief
The month-long revolt in Hama central prison continued as inmates captured 11 staff members, including the prison chief, on Saturday.
The incident took place following judge Rida Musa’s announcement that 11 detainees awaiting death sentences were to be transferred to Sednaya prison near the capital Damascus, according to Al-Jazeera, so their death penalties could be carried out.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that inmates captured the prison chief, a police office and nine other government officials.
Inmates have not yet announced their demands.
The revolts began in early May after five inmates were told they were to be transferred to the infamous Sednaya prison to receive the death sentences issued by an extrajudicial military tribunal.
Political detainees in Syria’s prisons and detention facilities do not have a right to legal representation and can spend years in detention without trial.
A recent report issued by the Observatory put the number of detainees who have died in government detention facilities since the beginning of the conflict at 60,000.
Clashes in Marea Kill Dozens: Monitor
A rebel-held town in Aleppo near the Turkish border saw continuous fighting over the weekend between armed rebels and militants from the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
ISIS fighters launched an assault on Friday that cut off Marea from key rebel stronghold Azaz, in what the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described as the biggest territorial gain in two years for the group in Aleppo.
On Saturday, the militants entered the town from the east, using at least two car bombs to pave the way.
According to the Observatory, the fighting in the past two days has killed at least 27 civilians, as well as 41 combatants.
Marea is one of the biggest nonjihadist rebel strongholds in the northern province of Aleppo.
From the west, the area is surrounded by Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), who have also been fighting ISIS with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. The Observatory reported that the YPG gained control of a village west of Marea on Saturday in an agreement with Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels.
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