Homs aid a ‘trial balloon’ for peace talks: Syria opposition
Discussions by Syria's warring sides on getting aid to besieged residents of Homs are a "trial balloon" before moving to the core of peace talks for the war-ravaged country, the opposition said Saturday.
“Homs is like a trial balloon,” said Louay Safi, spokesman of the opposition National Coalition and a member of the delegation negotiating with the regime in Geneva.
“What is happening today and tomorrow is a prelude to the negotiations starting on Monday,” he said. “It’s on Monday that the formation of a transitional government will be dealt with.”
Speaking to reporters on the second day of peace talks, Safi said: “If the regime does not open humanitarian corridors for people who are starving to death, this means that the regime wants a military solution and not a political solution.”
Managing to get aid into the central city of Homs — where residents face near-daily shelling and are trying to survive on the barest of supplies — would hopefully be a prelude to “securing food for all starving Syrians under siege,” he said.
He said the UN was negotiating with the local governor to try to bring 30 tonnes of food into the Old City of Homs, maintaining that some 500 civilian families are stuck in the besieged rebel-held areas in the centre of the city.
“People are eating grass, and… animals like cats and dogs,” he said earlier. “They are not hungry, they are starving.”
UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi confirmed that securing aid to besieged areas of Homs had been discussed Saturday afternoon, when the two sides negotiated face-to-face for the first time.