BEIRUT — The Latest on Syria’s conflict (all times local):
The U.N. Security Council will hold a high-level meeting on Sept. 21 to take stock of the Syrian conflict and discuss prospects for ending the fighting, which is now in its sixth year.
New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, whose country holds the council presidency, said members are expected to discuss the “political initiative” that U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura is preparing to help revive the stalled Syria peace talks.
Van Bohemen told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday that the council session on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly’s annual ministerial meetings will be chaired by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who has invited leaders of the 14 other council nations to attend.
He said New Zealand wants “to shine a spotlight” on “the greatest crisis of our time.”
The U.N. envoy for Syria says he is preparing “a quite clear political initiative” to help revive the stalled Syria peace talks aimed at resolving the country’s devastating civil war, now in its sixth year.
Staffan de Mistura says the “important” initiative will come ahead of a planned Sept. 21 meeting on Syria during the U.N. General Assembly ministerial meeting in New York.
De Mistura also said on Thursday that he would provide details in the week before the gathering, “to help the General Assembly look the Syria problem straight in the eye.”
The U.N. envoy had hoped to resume talks between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government and the main opposition group in August, having set two target dates during the month. He suspended the talks in April amid renewed fighting.
The U.N. Syria envoy warned that a recent agreement that saw the population of a Damascus suburb evacuated after surrendering to the government could be repeated in other places around the country.
At a press conference in Geneva, Staffan de Mistura warns that “after Daraya, we may have other Darayas.”
Government forces kept Daraya under tight siege for four years after the suburb evicted security forces in 2012, ultimately securing an agreement for the estimated 6,000 remaining civilians to leave last week. De Mistura acknowledged that such tactics “could be a strategy taking place.”
De Mistura’s humanitarian adviser, Jan Egeland, says the U.N.’s humanitarian task force for Syria had “failed the people of Daraya.”
Egeland warns that sieges on al-Waer in Homs and Madaya, near Damascus, could compel similar evacuations.
Residents say a deal has been struck with the Syrian government to evacuate gunmen from of a Damascus suburb and bring back state control after years of siege.
Hassan Ghandour, a resident of Moadamiyeh and a leading negotiator, says Thursday the evacuation is expected to be carried out in the next 48 hours.
Moadamiyeh lies west of Daraya, another suburb of Damascus, which was evacuated last week after a deal with the government that ended four-years of siege and a punishing bombing campaign. The U.N. criticized Daraya’s evacuation, saying it was not involved or consulted in the deal.
Ghandour says not all of Moadamiyeh’s 28,000 residents will be evacuated. He says 200 gunmen want to evacuate.
Unlike Daraya, Moadamiyeh has reached localized truces with the government since 2014.
Opposition activists say warplanes have carried out several airstrikes in Syria’s Hama, killing at least 25 people, amid a lightning advance by insurgents on government-controlled areas of the central province.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Thursday a series of airstrikes in northern Hama province has killed at least 25 civilians, including six children.
The Hama-based Syrian Press Center, another activist group, says at least ten people were killed when warplanes struck a crowd of people displaced from Suran, a town north of Hama city that was seized by opposition fighters. It says another 15 people were killed further to the west.
Syria’s state news agency, SANA, says warplanes killed 10 “terrorists” in northern Hama.
Insurgents have been pushing toward Hama city, seizing government positions in the north.