As members of the government and the opposition gather in Geneva, IS claims responsibility for deadly blast in Damascus that threatens to unravel any peace progress. Nathan Frandino reports.
Syrian peace efforts disrupted by deadly blast in Damascus
At U.N.-mediated talks in Geneva, Syria’s main opposition group says it’s optimistic about the current peace efforts.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) HIGHER NEGOTIATION COMMITTEE (HNC) SPOKESMAN, SALIM AL-MUSLAT, SAYING:
“We’re optimistic, and we are here to really find a solution for all Syrians. No matter what side they are on. We are here to find Syria, to see Syria free of terrorism, free of dictatorship, for all Syrians.”
The U.N. is aiming for six months of negotiations, starting with a ceasefire and followed by a political settlement.
But standing in the way is more death and destruction.
Twin suicide blasts and a car bomb went off in Damascus on Sunday, killing more than 60 people.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which struck near Syria’s holiest Shi’ite shrine.
Syrian government delegation head Bashar al-Jaafari said the attacks proved what the government has long suspected.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BASHAR AL-JAAFARI, SYRIA’S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, SAYING:
“This confirms what the Syrian government has said over and over again that there is a link between terrorism and those who sponsor terrorism from one side and some political groups that pretend to be against terrorism.”
Whether or not the talks can recover from the attack remains to be seen.
The government and the opposition has yet to meet face-to-face.
Opposition member Bassma Kodmani says they want an end to government air strikes first.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) HIGHER NEGOTIATION COMMITTEE (HNC) DELEGATION MEMBER BASSMA KODMANI SAYING:
“We are here for political negotiations, but we cannot start those until we have those gestures.”
So far the civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and forced more than 10 million to flee.