Syria barrel bomb attacks 'unacceptable': UN envoy
The UN's peace envoy to Syria said Sunday he would visit Damascus soon and renewed his criticism of the use of barrel bombs by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Without specifying when the visit would be, his spokesman said Staffan de Mistura "intends to raise with the Syrian Government the issue of protection of civilians, underlining once again the unacceptable use of barrel bombs".
He called on the government to respect international law and to honour its "incontestable duty" to protect civilians.
Nearly every day, the air force drops barrel bombs -- containers packed with crude explosives and shrapnel -- on areas wrested from government control by rebels.
But rights groups say the weapons are indiscriminate, and that many of its victims are civilians, often including children.
On May 30, at least 45 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded in a barrel bomb attack in the northern province of Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
The envoy's announcement came after he said on Wednesday he was extending wide-ranging talks in Geneva by another month until July.
The talks were launched May 5 to allow separate consultations with regional and domestic players in the hope of reviving dialogue on the four-year conflict.
"Mr. de Mistura looks forward to meeting with senior Syrian officials with the aim of giving them the opportunity to express their own views around the Geneva Consultations," the statement said, adding that the envoy had "decided to respond positively to an invitation" from the government in Damascus.
The envoy "also plans to discuss the current humanitarian situation in Syria and ways to increase access to besieged and conflict-affected communities".
The UN said last year nearly a quarter of a million Syrians were living under siege.
Syria's war began as an uprising demanding political change, but later morphed into a conflict after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.
Two rounds of direct negotiations in Geneva last year failed to bring any let-up in the fighting, while former UN aid chief Valerie Amos last month said the grimness of the conflict surpassed "what even the most pessimistic observers thought possible".
© 2015 AFP