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U.N. envoy calls on United States, Russia to revive Syria peace talks

By
Amy R. Connolly
Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, called on the United States and Russia to help re-start the Syrian peace talks. Photo by Elma Okic/United Nations
Staffan de Mistura, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, called on the United States and Russia to help re-start the Syrian peace talks. Photo by Elma Okic/United Nations

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 28 (UPI) -- The U.N. envoy for Syria called on the United States and Russia to revive the struggling peace talks in the war-torn country, saying the recent truce is barely holding.

Staffan de Mistura, speaking to reporters following a U.N. Security Council briefing, said the U.S.-Russia brokered agreement was in grave danger.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov brokered the cease-fire that began in February to put an end to fighting between the Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad and a consolidated group of rebel forces.

"It is still alive, but barely. And the perception is that it could collapse any time," de Mistura said. "Let's put it in a few words -- in the last 48 hours we had on the average one Syrian killed every 25 minutes, one Syrian wounded every 13 minutes."

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De Mistura's comments come as ongoing peace talks in Geneva came to a standstill, with the regime insisting Assad remain in power and opponents insisting he step down. It is unclear when the talks will resume.

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At the same time, violence in Syria has intensified in the past days. Early Thursday, at least 27 doctors and patients died in an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 100 civilians have been killed in an uptick in fighting in the past week.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced an additional 250 special operations forces will be deployed to Syria to help, bringing the total number of Americans on the ground there to 300. The American troops will not be leading combat efforts on the ground, but will help train and support rebels.

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