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Syria talks focus on prisoners

The fates of the thousands jailed, kidnapped or missing in Syria were on the table on Sunday as the country’s warring sides pursued U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

A day after sitting together for the first time in the same room, delegates from President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the opposition resumed closed-door talks, with U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi acting as go-between.
Mr. Brahimi said Saturday’s meeting had been a “good beginning,” with the two sides discussing aid to besieged residents in rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs.
He said Sunday’s talks would focus on “a lot of people who have lost their freedom,” including the “thousands and thousands of people in the jails of the government.”
Prisoner releases could start, he said, with “women, old people and people underage.”
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said the issue of prisoners needed to be discussed “without discrimination”, with the focus also on people held by rebel forces.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a key watchdog, estimates that some 17,000 people have gone missing in the war, tens of thousands are being held in government jails. — AFP

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