UNITED NATIONS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- United Nations-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi on Thursday urged the Syrian government and opposition groups to resume talks to lift the siege on Homs, where hundreds of people are still trapped.
"Recent discussions between the Syrian authorities and a Negotiating Committee representing the civilians and fighters still trapped in the Old city of Homs as well as the inhabitants of the Al-Waer neighborhood were followed with keen interest and great hope by people all over Syria as well as elsewhere in the region and the world," said Brahimi in a statement distributed by the UN Spokesperson Office to the press here.
The government media of Damascus wrote "very positively" about the process, he said. However, "it is a matter of deep regret that negotiations were brutally stopped."
Brahimi said that violence in Homs is now rife again when a comprehensive agreement seemed "so close at hand."
Noting with alarm, the joint envoy said that Homs, whose residents have suffered so much throughout these past three years, is again the "theater of death and destruction."
"We have reached out to all those who could help put an end to this tragedy, " Brahimi said.
The representative urged all parties to return to the negotiating table and "complete the deal which was on the verge of being signed."
In February, some 1,350 men, women and children -- more than half of the estimated 2,500 who have suffered the years-long siege -- were evacuated from the Old City of Homs, and food moved in as part of a "humanitarian pause," according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Two rounds of talks earlier this year, the first in January followed by a second round in February, saw both sides sticking to their positions and yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access in the Homs.
Domestic opposition says presidential elections won't solve Syria crisis
DAMASCUS, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Syrian domestically-based opposition groups said Thursday that upcoming presidential elections won't help resolve the country's long-running crisis, noting that the current situation in Syria is not suitable for such elections.
"The presidential elections will not solve the Syrian crisis," Hasan Abdul-Azim, the head of the oppositional National Coordination Body (NCB), told Xinhua in an interview. "The elections can't take place amidst this chaos and violence on one hand and can't resolve the crisis on the other hand." Full story