Round Eight on Syrian Talks Kick off in Geneva

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (3rd L) shakes hands with head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) Nasr al-Hariri (3rd R) next to opposition delegation members (from L-R) Khaled al-Mahamid, Hanadi Abu Arab, Jamal Suliman and Safwan Akash, on the opening of a new round of Syria's peace talks at the United Naitons Office in Geneva, Switzerland November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (3rd L) shakes hands with head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) Nasr al-Hariri (3rd R) next to opposition delegation members (from L-R) Khaled al-Mahamid, Hanadi Abu Arab, Jamal Suliman and Safwan Akash, on the opening of a new round of Syria's peace talks at the United Naitons Office in Geneva, Switzerland November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool
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Round Eight on Syrian Talks Kick off in Geneva

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (3rd L) shakes hands with head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) Nasr al-Hariri (3rd R) next to opposition delegation members (from L-R) Khaled al-Mahamid, Hanadi Abu Arab, Jamal Suliman and Safwan Akash, on the opening of a new round of Syria's peace talks at the United Naitons Office in Geneva, Switzerland November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (3rd L) shakes hands with head of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC) Nasr al-Hariri (3rd R) next to opposition delegation members (from L-R) Khaled al-Mahamid, Hanadi Abu Arab, Jamal Suliman and Safwan Akash, on the opening of a new round of Syria's peace talks at the United Naitons Office in Geneva, Switzerland November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrice Coffrini/Pool

The eighth round of Syrian talks began on Tuesday in Geneva upon the Syrian opposition delegation's arrival.

A Syrian government delegation will arrive in Geneva on Wednesday, a day later than expected, to attend peace talks being held there this week, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

The opposition delegation preceded the meetings by issuing a press statement pointing out that the Syrian regime is still brutally targeting Syrians.

It also said that postponing and bringing up excuses, in order to lag behind the timetable of diplomatic efforts, set to take place in Geneva, does not serve the interest of the people.

According to the statement, the opposition started a series of coordinating meetings with the UN Secretary General Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, to review the situation, especially following reports coming from within Syria attributed to the MSF (doctors without borders), showing that about 70 persons have died and as many as 500 have been injured, in Eastern Ghouta District, during the past two weeks.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.