Syrian government says opposition holding Geneva talks hostage

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 02, 2017 1:12 PM

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Ja'afari accused the Saudi-backed opposition on Thursday of holding peace talks hostage because of their reported refusal to unify under one opposition delegation and include terrorism on agenda.

"We heard that... the Riyadh platform refused the inclusion... of counter-terrorism," Ja'afari told reporters after meeting U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura. "This did not come as a surprise because some members of the Riyadh delegation include members of terrorist armed groups," he said.

Ja'afari said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had kept his promise to retake the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State militants, which fell to the army earlier on Thursday.

"Counter-terrorism operations will continue until the last inch of territory from our country is retaken from these foreign terrorists who are wreaking havoc," he said.

(Reporting by John Irish and Tom Miles)