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Geneva 4: Race between Security Escalation, Actual Launch of Negotiations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People inspect the site of a double bomb attack in the government-controlled city of Homs, Syria, in this handout picture provided by SANA on January 26, 2016. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

Geneva – U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura condemned a militant attack in the Syrian city of Homs on Saturday, describing it as a deliberate attempt to ruin the ongoing peace talks in Geneva.

Suicide bombers attacked two Syrian security offices in Homs, killing dozens with gunfire and explosions including the head of military security.

In a statement from Geneva, de Mistura said: “Spoilers were always expected, and should continue to be expected, to try to influence the proceedings of the talks. It is in the interest of all parties who are against terrorism and are committed to a political process in Syria not to allow these attempts to succeed.”

Speaking to reporters following a meeting with the U.N. envoy, the Syrian government’s lead negotiator Bashar Jaafari called on the opposition to condemn the attacks.

“If anyone refuses to condemn this terrorist attack then he is an accomplice of terrorism and we will deal with them accordingly,” Jaafari said.

He added that the latest attacks in Homs were a “message from the sponsors of terror to Geneva”, which is currently hosting the fourth round of U.N.-backed intra-Syrian talks.

High Negotiations Committee (HNC) chief spokesman Salim al-Muslat said that the suicide attacks were perpetrated by the “regime and its tools”.

In the wake of Saturday’s bloody developments that seemed to threaten the ongoing peace talks, de Mistura is multiplying efforts to effectively launch the negotiations, which were expected to witness unprecedented direct talks between the opposition and the government delegations.

The two delegations would present their opinion on a working paper submitted by the international envoy on Friday regarding procedural and other key political issues that he had hoped to be able to begin addressing.

On Sunday, De Mistura is scheduled to meet separately with representatives from the Cairo and Moscow platforms, after he had met on Saturday with the pro-government delegation.

Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the international envoy was deploying all efforts to form a unified opposition delegation.

European diplomatic sources stressed that de Mistura’s attempts were also backed by Russia, as divisions among opposition parties would weaken the ongoing talks.