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Hmeimim group to continue dialogue even if HNC withdraws with Geneva talks — group leader

April 18, 17:27 UTC+3
Some HNC representatives made a number of statements over the situation at Aleppo saying that they would not be able to continue work in Geneva if the situation there continued to deteriorate
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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

GENEVA, April 18. /TASS/. Syria’s Hmeimim internal opposition group is ready to continue talks on Syria even if representatives of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) decide to leave them, the group’s leader and secretary-general of the National Conference Party Ilian Masaad has told TASS.

"We have no intention of leaving Syria, even if the HNC takes such a decision. Work is in progress here on the peaceful settlement, peace dialogue is conducted. How can I leave?" he said.

Some sources familiar with the situation earlier said that the HNC asked UN secretary general’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to take a pause at the talks. There has been no response yet from de Mistura’s office.

UN secretary general’s special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is on Monday holding a meeting with the delegation of the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC).

Only three people arrived for the meeting instead of the usual 15 to 17 delegates.  The source said the reason that might prompt the HNC to quit the Geneva talks could be an offensive of the Syrian army, which according to the HNC violates the ceasefire imposed seven weeks ago.

"We are outraged by what is going on in Syria," the unnamed source said.

Earlier, the general coordinator of the HNC, Riyad Hijab, said on his Twitter account that it was impossible to continue a peace dialogue in current conditions.

De Mistura met with the Syrian government delegation led by Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari earlier on Monday.

It is expected that after the meeting with the HNC delegation de Mistura will comment on the results of today’s negotiations.

On April 17 and 18, some representatives of the High Negotiations Committee made a number of statements over the situation at Aleppo saying that they would not be able to continue work in Geneva if the situation there continued to deteriorate.

However, according to Russian envoy to the United Nations office and other international organizations in Geneva Alexey Borodavkin, the cessation of hostilities regime is violated mostly by illegal armed groups, not the army. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told TASS that the fighting at Aleppo was directed against terrorists.

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