Syria negotiator appeals for support to stop ceasefire violations

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UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo

Syria negotiator Staffan de Mistura reopened peace talks in Geneva with a call for international support to stop an increasing number of ceasefire violations in the wartorn country.

His comments followed a meeting with the main opposition group, the HNC, which alleged that there had been "21 massacres in the month of March alone" perpetrated by the Syrian government.

The veteran UN diplomat also insisted that political transition remained the key issue of this second round of talks and that it was a "reality" that it would be addressed.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

In a direct appeal to international governments with influence on warring parties in Syria, Staffan de Mistura spoke of the need for them to reaffirm their support for the cessation of hostilities.

That's because although he said the truce was still holding, there had been several serious incidents that threatened to derail the peace process.

"That's why perhaps it would be a good time for a reaffirmation by those who have been supporting and promoting the cessation of hostilities in their fate and determination in protecting it. Because at the second round of talks that would be a significative help."

Staffan de Mistura's comments came after he met with the main opposition group, the HNC.

It alleged that Syrian government forces had killed dozens of children in recent attacks, and that they had deliberately targeted schools and hospitals.

The UN Syria envoy also highlighted concern over the dire humanitarian situation in parts of Syria, before reiterating his determination to push ahead with the key issue of political transition.

On that point, de Mistura said that he didn't see any doubt from those involved in the talks that it was indeed on the agenda.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'09"

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