UN envoy to meet armed militants delegation in Homs

Visiting United Nations envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura headed Monday to Syria’s central city of Homs to meet with a delegation of armed militants in a rebel-held area there, sources and media reports said.

The pro-government al-Watan daily said the envoy, who arrived in Syria on Saturday, will be holding meetings with a number of Homs-based UN officials and would also meet a delegation of the armed rebels who are entrenched in the rebel-held district of al- Waer, the last rebel stronghold inside the city of Homs.

No more details were given about the envoy’s visit, but it apparently came against the backdrop of his meetings with Syrian officials in the capital Damascus.

De Mistura has recently proposed a plan for “local freeze of battles” in the northern province of Aleppo so that the focus could be shifted from military means to political ones. The Syrian leadership, while not officially commenting on the plan, appeared skeptical, and sources familiar with the situation said the Damascus administration wants to implement in Aleppo the same ” reconciliation” policy it has recently adopted in Homs, which could explain the envoy’s visit to that key Syrian city.

The Syrian government implemented what it called “national reconciliation” in several rebel-held areas in Homs. The opposition activists charged that what actually happened wasn’t reconciliation as the rebels had eventually to agree to such ” reconciliation” after months-long siege by the government troops.

On the other hand, the government says the reconciliation in Homs city was successful and could be repeated in Aleppo, where the Syrian army is fighting intense battles to secure the city.

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