Syria envoy claims 400,000 have died in Syria conflict

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks to the press. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy

The Syria conflict has likely claimed 400,000 deaths, significantly more than previous estimates, UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Friday.

Speaking at the end of another week of peace talks in Geneva, which the UN negotiator confirmed will now continue until next Wednesday, he explained that the death toll "cannot be 250,000" any more.

De Mistura also called for a new meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to help shore up the negotiations.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

At the end of another week of peace talks in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura insisted that the process is still on track, but that help is needed now from the ISSG to keep it that way.

It was a high-level meeting of the group in February that revived hopes of an end to the conflict in Syria, which has been torn apart by five years of war.

Staffan de Mistura likened the negotiations to a rickety table with three legs; one leg being humanitarian access, another the cessation of hostilities and a third, political transition.

"When one of them is in difficulty we can make it, when all three of them are finding some difficulty, it's time to call the ISSG."

The UN Special Envoy also stood by his assessment that the conflict has now claimed 400,000 deaths, since previous estimates citing 250,000 fatalities were established two years ago.

On the key issue of Syria's future government, the UN Special Envoy said that he had continued to talk about this with the main opposition group, the HNC.

He said that further talks on Monday with the government of Syria would hopefully provide a clearer idea about what it meant when it spoke of a broad-based government.

But he indicated that many questions still remain when he said, "We're not there yet.'

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’14″

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