Syrians peace talks resume in Geneva

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The evacuations in Homs were completed after a first three-day truce which ended on Sunday. Reuters
Delegates from Syria\’s government and the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad are in Geneva for a second round of peace talks.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is holding separate meetings Monday with the two sides as he continues in his role as mediator.
The talks follow an initial round last month that ended with little progress, but one that Brahimi called "a modest beginning" to build on.
Wide gaps remain on issues ranging from a potential transitional government to access for humanitarian aid in besieged areas.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Monday that France is preparing a new draft U.N. Security Council resolution to help speed food and medicine to those in besieged areas.
His comments follow the evacuation Sunday of 600 people from rebel-held areas in the war-battered city of Homs.
The city\’s mayor said an aid shipment reached the city, despite snipers hindering the operation and reports the road into the old city was mined.
The International Red Cross said Monday that one driver was wounded Saturday when clearly labeled trucks from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent entered the old city and came under fire. The group called for all parties in Syria to protect health care and humanitarian personnel, and for access to all besieged areas in the country.
U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said she was disappointed by reports aid workers were deliberately targeted. She called it a stark reminder of the dangers civilians and aid workers face each day in Syria.
A year-long blockade of Homs by Syrian government forces has created severe food shortages, and the U.N. says 2,500 people have been stranded since mid-2012. 
Also Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamist fighters killed at least 40 people Sunday in an attack on an Alawite village. The monitoring group said the attack happened in Hama province, and that the dead included at least 20 civilians.
The civil conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2011.
The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours.
Source: VOA and agencies

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