U.N. Switches To 'Technical' Syria Talks

U.N. Switches To 'Technical' Syria Talks

The United Nations will not hold another round of Syria peace talks in Geneva until officials on all sides agree the parameters for a political transition deal, which has an Aug. 1 deadline, the U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday (June 9).

The United States and Russia brokered a cessation of hostilities as part of an effort to get U.N.-backed peace talks moving earlier this year. The talks broke down in April when the main opposition alliance withdrew over what it described as a worsening situation on the ground.

De Mistura also said he had heard from Russia about a release of a "substantial number" of fighters detained by the Syrian government, but he wanted to get confirmation and more detail.

Nearly 600,000 people are besieged in 19 different areas in Syria, according to the U.N., with two thirds trapped by government forces and the rest besieged by armed opposition groups and Islamic State militants.

De Mistura also said that the Syrian government gave their approval for aid to go to all 19 besieged areas this month, adding that a lot of action would be needed to ensure delivery.

Rebel-held Daraya got its first U.N. aid convoy since 2012 on June 1, but the shipment did not include food. The United Nations has said malnourished children in the Damascus suburb will die without outside help, a claim President Bashar al-Assad's government has denied.

At least 250,000 people have died in Syria's five-year civil war in Syria, while more than 6.6 million have been internally displaced and another 4.8 million people have fled the country.