Senior United Nations officials acknowledge that efforts to resume deadlocked Syrian peace talks and gain humanitarian access to besieged areas in that war-torn country remain unsuccessful, as fighting continues to escalate with no let up in sight.
Senior U.S. and Russian military, security, and diplomatic experts are meeting in Geneva to try to finalize a cessation of hostilities agreement, which would make it possible for U.N.-mediated intra-Syrian peace talks to go ahead.
The meeting is a followup to last week’s day-long meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, aimed at sealing a deal. U.N. officials had hoped to restart the Syrian peace talks, which broke off in April, by the end of August. Officials say they now have set a new target date of September 21 for the resumption of negotiations.
A stock-taking meeting by the International Syria Support Group’s Humanitarian Access Task Force found that U.N. aid convoys were able to reach only three of Syria’s 18 besieged areas. U.N. special adviser Jan Egeland said U.N. relief convoys are ready to go to those places, but are being prevented from doing so.
The United Nations has been asking for a 48-hour pause to allow desperately needed food supplies to reach people trapped in Aleppo.