UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura continues to scramble to try to save the Syrian peace talks, though with virtually the entire rebel delegation having already left Geneva, the situation doesn’t look good. Adding to that, key rebel coordinator Riad Hijab is condemning Mistura and defending the end of the talks.
Hijab, who was visiting refugees in neighboring Turkey, insisted that Mistura’s two years in his position have seen death tolls increase dramatically, and also an increase in the number of villages under siege, insisting this must lead to a “reevaluation” from world powers.
Hijab went on to defend the rebels leaving the talks, insisting it was done out of “respect” for the people killed in airstrikes during the ceasefire, and to “respect the Syrians who are killed of hunger following the siege.”
The rebels had been difficult to even get to attend the peace talks, and have complained virtually non-stop throughout the nearly two months of ceasefire, condemning every clash between the Syrian government and al-Qaeda, who is not a party to the ceasefire, as a “violation,” even though excluding ISIS and al-Qaeda was done specifically to allow all factions to keep attacking them.
Despite the complaints, the ceasefire saw a major drop in death tolls in Syria, and while the rebels try to present the resumption as a recognition of the talks’ failure, it likely also means a new surge in fighting, and deaths.