Syrian opposition seeks extension of current Geneva talks

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks during a press briefing following a meeting of the International Syria Support Group's Humanitarian Access Task Force in Geneva

President Bashar Assad's government has denied the US allegations.

The Syrian government forcefully denied it.

The talks opened with tensions high over a United States charge that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government was using a prison crematorium to hide evidence of thousands of murdered detainees. Russian military officials said the plan, which was agreed to in Syria talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana on May 4, envisions the establishment of four safe zones that could bring relief for hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians and encourage refugees to return. Among those named were cousins of Assad.

Western monitors and watchdog groups say they have accumulated evidence of mass killings in Syrian government prisons.

'We want to go more in-depth and the meetings will be more interactive, proactive, and frequent, ' he told the media in the Swiss city, where the inter-Syrian negotiation will go through its sixth stage, after the round held in late March.

The revelations echoed a February report by Amnesty International that said Syria's military police hanged as many as 13,000 people in four years and buried them in mass graves.

Meslet on Tuesday said the HNC was willing to go back to direct interactions.

A former Syrian army colonel who joined the opposition said what the State Department revealed about Saydnaya "is not surprising".

Some regional Gulf powers admit privately they are close to abandoning hope with the Geneva process, and are looking at other options, such as going straight to parliamentary elections. "Regarding cremations, these are usually secret matters but not surprising".

Syrian opposition spokesman Salem Meslet said the US allegations that the Syrian government had built a crematorium to cover up its mass killings were "credible" and not surprising.

In Geneva, Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari held a very brief meeting with de Mistura on Tuesday and left without speaking to the media.

In Damascus, governor Beshr al-Sabban said Monday that a northeastern neighborhood of Damascus is now completely under government control after carrying out the second and last phase of a truce agreement in the area.

The UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has dismissed suggestions that the Astana negotiations were overshadowing the Geneva track.

Previous rounds of talks have produced agreement that the warring sides will discuss a four-part agenda, but no progress has yet been made on any topic.

Despite the lack of headway on the political track, the United Nations stands by its commitment to pursue peace through political negotiations to prevent further bloodshed in a country where as many as 400,000 people have died and millions more have fled their homes.

Mr De Mistura said on Monday he was "encouraged by the increasing engagement, the increasing interest, by the USA administration in finding a de-escalation". "This started to produce results through more than one attempt to achieve ceasefire, the most recent of which is what's called the de-escalation areas", Assad said. "That is exactly what we are pushing for", he said.

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