Homs attacks aim to spoil Syria peace talks: United Nations envoy

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported at least 14 people were killed.

Though the Geneva talks are seen as the most serious diplomatic effort in months, disputes over the agenda and longstanding disagreements between the opposition and the government on the future of Syria have cast doubts on whether any progress will be achieved. He called them "act of political terrorism".

"The UN should prioritize the struggle against terrorism", Jaafari said.

Syria's opposing sides met face-to-face for the first time in United Nations mediation in three years on Thursday, with the United Nations envoy citing a historic chance to end a conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead, displaced millions and fomented a proxy war by foreign powers.

"Our positions are clear in condemning terrorism and terrorists", said Nasr al-Hariri, the chief negotiator for the opposition High Negotiations Committee, specifically singling out the Islamic State group as well as a former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Rebel groups are also plagued by infighting and have been losing worldwide support as well as ground to more radical al-Qaeda-linked groups. He also noted that the Free Syrian Army has fought against ISIS, the sectarian militias, and the Iranian regime more than any other party.

Colonel Fateh Hassoun, another member of the opposition negotiating team in Geneva, suggested that security forces with access could have been behind the attack which led to government air strikes.

"The region where the security branches are is very secure and no operation could reach it unless it was facilitated by the security forces", he said.

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During the meeting, Hariri, leader of the country's Sunni Muslims, called upon the West "not to equate Islam and terrorism". That's a stance deeply at odds with Hariri - and with France's current political position on the conflict.

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"We will be continuing work with de Mistura", Jaafari said.

The spokesman also stressed that they expect "active policies from the US administration", criticizing Obama administration for its "passive attitude" during the previous Geneva talks.

But it has seen repeated bombings since, including twin attacks past year that killed 64. "The blood of Syrians is precious and those who kill Syrians will also be punished", he added.

The deal has reduced violence but fighting flared again this week including a government bombing campaign on rebel territory around Damascus.The HNC charged that Assad was trying to send "a bloody message" before the talks resume.

Much has changed since de Mistura suspended the last round in April, after two short-lived truces early a year ago collapsed and heavy fighting resumed. No one is allowed to enter these areas, not even close.

GENEVA Syrian negotiators came face to face under the United Nations flag in Geneva for the first time in three years on Thursday, as United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura opened a new round of political negotiations in a bid to end the nearly six-year conflict.

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