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Wednesday 17th
posted by James Tweedie in World

SYRIAN peace talks resumed in Geneva yesterday while the US tried to derail them with more allegations against Damascus.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura met Syria’s UN ambassador and peace delegation head Bashar al-Jaafari in the morning, followed by insurgent representatives.

The sixth round of UN-brokered talks followed the recent agreement to set up “de-escalation zones” in the provinces of Idlib, Homs, Quneitra and Daraa and the capital Damascus.

The zones deal is guaranteed by Syria’s allies Russia and Iran and opposition-backer Turkey.

But on Monday the US State Department claimed that President Bashar al-Assad’s government was executing thousands of political prisoners and cremating their bodies to hide the evidence.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East Stuart Jones produced commercial satellite images which he claimed showed a new chimney at a Syrian prison.

Syria returned fire, accusing the US-led coalition of bombing civilians in the Isis-held eastern town of Abu Kamal, a repeated target of US-trained Free Syrian Army militants.

Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general, tried to upset things further yesterday, declaring: “It is time to assassinate Assad.

“When we finish with the tail of the snake we can reach the head of the snake sitting in Tehran and deal with it as well.”

Even the Coventry-based pro-insurgent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights did not back the US allegations.

But it claimed the army had shelled the east Ghouta suburbs of Damascus in breach of the ceasefire, killing two women.

Ghouta has been the scene of extremist infighting in recent weeks. But the Russian Defence Ministry said the ceasefire was holding despite a few minor violations.