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Middle East

Fighting spikes in Syria as peace talks stall

Dozens killed in Aleppo air strikes, activists report, while Russia backs Damascus on humanitarian-aid resolution.

Last updated: 13 Feb 2014 14:53
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Moscow denounced as biased a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid access [Reuters]

A spike in fighting between the Syrian government and opposition forces has sent the country's death toll soaring, just as UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi struggles to prevent peace talks in Geneva from collapsing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Thursday reported that at least 51 people were killed a day earlier in Aleppo alone - mostly civilians in air raids targeting opposition-controlled areas. Dozens more were killed in the south.

The Observatory has reported an average of 236 people killed daily since the so-called Geneva 2 peace talks began in late January, bringing regime and opposition representatives to the negotiating table but producing no concrete results.

In Switzerland, the opposition National Coalition laid out a transition plan, including evicting foreign fighters and a process towards elections, the Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

But the government refused to discuss it, saying the first item on the agenda was the battle against rebel "terrorism".

UN resolutions

Meanwhile, Syrian ally Russia has presented draft UN Security Council resolutions on humanitarian aid access and the fight against "terrorism" in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

Moscow's calls for a resolution are in tune with rhetoric from Damascus, which uses the term to describe all those fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

"Terrorism is certainly no less acute a problem [than the humanitarian crisis]," Lavrov told a news conference after talks with his Egyptian counterpart.

Moscow earlier this week confirmed it would reject a Western-Arab draft resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria in its existing form, saying it was biased against the government of Assad.

The latest daily death tolls in Syria have been the highest since the civil war began nearly three years ago, while hundreds of thousands more people have been displaced by the violence.

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Source:
Agencies
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