Syria rebels reject envoy plan to freeze Aleppo fighting

Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo today rejected UN envoy Staffan de Mistura's plan for a freeze in fighting in the divided northern city, dealing a blow to his peace efforts.

Beirut: Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo today rejected UN envoy Staffan de Mistura's plan for a freeze in fighting in the divided northern city, dealing a blow to his peace efforts.

"We refuse to meet with Mr Staffan de Mistura if it is not on the basis of a comprehensive solution to Syria's drama through the exit of (President) Bashar al-Assad and his chief of staff, and the prosecution of war criminals," a newly-formed Aleppo revolutionary commission said.

The political and military grouping was set up yesterday at a meeting in the Turkish border town of Kilis attended by exiled coalition chief Khaled Khoja, other opposition figures and Aleppo civil society representatives.

De Mistura's proposal "falls short of an initiative to resolve the humanitarian crisis of our people targeted by the regime's use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs prohibited by the international community", it said in a statement.

Aleppo's opposition forces also turned down preferential treatment for their region over other areas of Syria stricken by the country's deadly conflict since 2011.

"Syria and its people are one and indivisible. The blood of our brothers in Daraa (in the south), in Ghouta (near Damascus), in Homs (central) and in other Syrian provinces are no less important than our blood in Aleppo," they said.

De Mistura yesterday held talks in the Syrian capital to try to finalise a deal to freeze fighting in the war-ravaged second city of Aleppo.

He met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and agreed to send a delegation from his Damascus office to Aleppo on a fact-finding mission, state news agency SANA said, without giving a date.

"The mission will aim to assess the situation on the ground and to ensure that, once the freeze is announced, humanitarian aid can significantly increase and to prepare arrangements to follow up on violations of the freeze," the UN said.

The Swedish-Italian diplomat "hopes to set in motion as soon as possible his project" to halt fighting in Aleppo for six weeks, said a member of his delegation.

He has met government officials and opposition chiefs in recent weeks to promote his plan for a temporary truce in Aleppo in order to move aid into the northern city, as a starting point to be expanded to other regions.

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