UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference in Geneva on May 5, 2015
UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference in Geneva on May 5, 2015 © Fabrice Coffrini - AFP/File
UN peace envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a news conference in Geneva on May 5, 2015
AFP
Last updated: June 15, 2015

UN Syria envoy in Damascus for regime talks

The UN's peace envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura arrived Monday in Damascus for talks with President Bashar al-Assad's government in a fresh bid to resolve the country's four-year war.

"Yes, he arrived," a member of de Mistura's team told AFP, without elaborating.

The envoy met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, who said he "supported efforts made by de Mistura for a political solution" to the conflict, the state-run Sana news agency reported.

According to Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, which is close to the regime, de Mistura will be in Damascus for three days to "inform Syrian officials of the consultations" he has led in Geneva since last month with various parties to the conflict.

De Mistura's spokesman said Sunday the trip would give government officials "the opportunity to express their own views around the Geneva Consultations."

The envoy "also plans to discuss the current humanitarian situation in Syria and ways to increase access to besieged and conflict-affected communities".

He is expected to raise with officials the "unacceptable" use of barrel bombs by the regime.

Nearly every day, Syria's air force drops barrel bombs -- containers packed with crude explosives and shrapnel -- on areas wrested from government control by rebels.

But rights groups say the weapons are indiscriminate, and that many of its victims are civilians, often including children.

On May 30, at least 45 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded in a barrel bomb attack in the northern province of Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Syria's war began as an uprising demanding political change, but evolved into a conflict after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

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