Volume. 11908

No agreement on aid, prisoners in Syrians talks
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Syria99a(10).jpgSyrians on opposite sides of their country's civil war tried again Sunday to find common ground, but a morning session focusing on the release of prisoners and an aid convoy to a besieged central city failed to produce an agreement, delegates said, according to AP.
The delegation for President Bashar Assad complained that the talks are avoiding the main issues and questioned their usefulness.
Meanwhile, the Syria government said Sunday it will allow women, children to leave besieged parts of Homs, according to U.N. mediator Ladkhar Brahimi, AFP reported. 
"What we have been told by the government side is that women and children in this besieged area of the city are welcome to leave immediately," Brahimi told reporters. "Hopefully starting tomorrow, women and children will be able to leave the Old City in Homs."
The proposed convoy of aid to Homs, Syria, which has been under government attack for more than a year, would provide a tangible success for a peace conference beset from the start by low expectations.
But the opposition accused the government of "stalling" and said no progress had been made yet. 
Brahimi said the thorniest topic - a possible transitional government - will not come up until at least Monday.
He said late Saturday that the two sides would first try to come together over humanitarian aid and a possible prisoner exchange, describing a process of "half-steps."
Syrian state-run news agency SANA said that while the government delegation underscored the need for humanitarian aid to reach all areas in Syria, "the delegation of the so-called 'opposition' continued to be obstinate and refused to talk about anything other than delivering aid to a small area in Homs city."
The government says the rebellion is rife with terrorists and that Assad is the only person able to end the fighting that has killed more than 130,000 people.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting also continued Sunday in the Qadam neighborhood on the southern fringe of Damascus, where at least 35 rebels and government troops were killed the previous day, said Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Abdurrahman said rebels, including fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, attacked a checkpoint in the area and tried to shut the main highway to the southern city of Daraa and the Jordanian border.

Negotiations with terrorists unacceptable 
In another development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected Sunday to hold dialogue with the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian army on ground.
“A dialogue with terrorist groups fighting in Syria will not be held under any circumstance,” he said.
“We refuse holding a dialogue with terrorist groups, it is against our principles, and we didn't advice others to do that,” Lavrov told the Russian NTV channel in an interview.
"The negotiation process has no room for groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other branches of al-Qaeda organization,” added.
"Finding a solution for the humanitarian crisis in Syria will be sure to promote confidence in the Geneva II negotiations,” the Russian minister concluded.
Lavrov added that reaching a political accord between the government and the national secular opposition, in addition to helping them unite in the face of terrorism in parallel to the political settlement is the aspired goal.
"Many inquiries are supposed to be directed to 'the Islamic Front' which has been founded recently combining two or three groups involved in Adra massacre, so it is hard to be conceived as part of peace talks," the Russian foreign Minister said adding "we should not say that it is possible to negotiate with gunmen just because they moved to 'the Islamic Front'."
Lavrov expressed conviction that settling humanitarian issues would consolidate trust between the Syrian parties through the ongoing negotiations in Geneva.
Al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting at the side of the opposition are seeking to unite after months of deadly clashes, especially the two main groups of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front.
The Geneva II conference on Syria kicked off in the Swiss town of Montreux on January 22, as the fighting goes on the ground in Syria with no sign of a possible stop.

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