Preparations for Geneva talks on Syria near completion, UN

Preparations for Geneva talks on Syria near completion, UN
# 21 August 2013 00:27 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Technical preparations for a new Geneva conference on Syria were "almost complete," the UN announced Tuesday, as an aid group said that authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan had imposed a daily quota on the number of refugees crossing into the territory, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN assistant secretary general for political affairs, told the UN Security Council that a political solution is urgently needed to end the bloodshed in Syria.

"We hope that the international community will remain committed to this (political) process and will contribute to its success, in word and in action," he said. He gave no details about the preparations.

The United States, Russia and the UN hope the second Geneva conference will implement provisions reached in the first one held last year, which called for a transitional government with full executive power in Damascus.

But the US and Russia, which had yet to agree on a date for the conference, remained divided over political issues in Syria, where the UN says more than 100,000 people have died in the 29-month-old civil war.

Fernandez-Taranco said the Syrian government's recent victories over the armed opposition "should not give it false confidence that it can win militarily."

"Likewise, promises of arms should not push the opposition towards different priorities or expectations other than a political solution."

In Syria, battles continued in northern Kurdish areas between members of the extremist Sunni groups and the main Kurdish party, prompting further exodus of civilians from the area, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Around 3,000 people have fled the area in the past 24 hours, said activist Bassam al Halabi, a member of the opposition Aleppo Media Center, tasked with transmitting news from the northern areas.

The fighting since Thursday has prompted some 30,000 Syrians, mostly Kurds, to flee to Iraq's northern Kurdish region to seek safety, according to UN agencies.

However, the Dubai-based al Arabia reported that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the authorities in Iraq's Kurdistan region had will now only allow 3,000 Syrian refugees a day to enter its territory.

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria and they make up nine percent of the country's population.