Over 1,800 people killed in Syria during 'Geneva 2' talks - monitor

by Reuters
Friday, 31 January 2014 16:06 GMT

A girl cries near a damaged car at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo's Dahret Awwad neighbourhood January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Saad AboBrahim

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BEIRUT, Jan 31 (Reuters) - At least 1,870 people died across Syria during the first nine days of the "Geneva 2" peace negotiations that began in Switzerland on Jan. 22, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

The Britain-based monitoring group said more than 470 of the deads were civilians, including 40 people who died from inadequate access to food and medicine in areas besieged by government forces.

The first round of talks in Geneva ended on Friday without making progress towards ending the civil war and also failed to achieve more modest aims, like an agreement to allow aid convoys into the central city Homs where thousands of civilians have been trapped for months.

Aid convoys this week delivered more than 1,000 parcels of humanitarian aid to residents in the besieged Damascus suburb of Yarmouk, which houses 18,000 Palestinians as well as some Syrians.

But the residents' needs still far outstrip the available humanitarian aid. The Observatory said most of the people who died from inadequate food and medicine in the last nine days had been living in Yarmouk.

The Observatory, a pro-opposition group with a network of sources across Syria, said the other civilian casualties were the result of government air strikes and barrel bombs. Snipers, shelling and rocket attacks from both sides caused the remaining deaths.

More than 600 rebels, including foreigners fighting with the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were killed in clashes with pro-government forces, the Observatory said. The fighting also killed more than 500 Syrian army and pro-government militias.

Rebels also died at each other's hands - more than 200 were killed in a continuing battle between ISIL and opposition groups seeking to push the group out of rebel-held swathes of northern and eastern Syria. (Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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