Syria: bombs in Damascus, failed peace talks in Astana
17 March, 2017
Syrian peace talks in Kazakhstan, sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, closed last Wednesday without any substantive results, after rebels boycotted the meeting. They refused to join the third round of talks, accusing Russia of failing to uphold December's shaky ceasefire.
The new round of the UN backed talks on Syria should start on 23 March in Geneva. They will focus on governance, the constitution, elections, counter-terrorism and possibly reconstruction, the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said.
Also last Wednesday a deadly double suicide bombing killed at least 31 people and wounded dozens in the Syrian capital Damascus. The first suicide bomber targeted the Palace of Justice (pictured) near the Old City and another blast hit a restaurant. It was the second wave of deadly attacks in the capital in less than a week after twin bombings killed 74 civilians on 11 March. That attack was claimed by Syria's al-Qaeda branch, formerly known as the Nusra Front.
This month Syrians mark the sixth anniversary of the country’s bitter civil war, which has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions of others. The conflict began in March 2011 as a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule before quickly descended into a full-blown civil war.