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Syria Government Demands Opposition Condemns Homs Attack


UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura (file photo)

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura (file photo)

The Syrian government's chief negotiator, Bashar Jaafari, demanded on February 25 that opposition representatives at peace talks in Geneva condemn a suicide attack on security forces in Homs which left dozens dead, saying that otherwise Damascus would consider them terrorists.

"Today, the test is that we expect that the [opposition] platforms [in Geneva] condemn this terrorist attack," Jaafari told reporters after a meeting with UN mediator Staffan de Mistura.

"If anyone refuses to condemn this terrorist attack then he is an accomplice of terrorism and we will deal with them accordingly."

Jaafari added that talks with de Mistura had focused solely on combating terrorism.

De Mistura said before the meeting that the attack aimed to "spoil" the peace peace talks. De Mistura was preparing more separate meetings with Syrian government and opposition negotiators.

Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, known before as the Al-Nusra Front, claimed the attacks on security headquarters in Homs which targeted and killed General Hassan Daabul, a close associate of President Bashar al-Assad.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 people were killed, but provincial Governor Talal Barazi put the toll at 32 people dead and 24 wounded.

Senior opposition delegates in Geneva said that they condemn terrorism but hinted that the Homs attack may have been orchestrated by the Syrian government itself.

Nasr al-Hariri, chief of the main opposition negotiating delegation, condemned terrorism in general, but said the Syrian government in Damascus was the primary "sponsor of terrorism."

Faleh Hassun, another member of the delegation, said only those with security clearance could access such an area.

"What really happened today we can call it liquidation by the regime of those who are wanted by international courts," Hassun told the media.

He said General Daabul was accused in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese premier who was killed in 2005. Many suspect Assad's government was behind Hariri's killing.

At the last UN-sponsored talks, the Syrian government's representatives and the rebels did not meet for face-to-face negotiations, with de Mistura shuttling between them as a mediator.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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