The Syrian government has not decided yet whether to take part in a second round of peace talks tentatively scheduled for next week, a senior official said.
A tumultuous week of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva last month between President Bashar Assad’s government and the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group ended without making any significant headway. The U.N. has proposed holding a second round of discussions that would begin on Monday.
The opposition Syrian National Coalition already has agreed to attend. The government, however, has refused to commit.
Bouthaina Shaaban, a close political and media adviser to Mr. Assad, told Syrian state television in an interview late Wednesday that the government delegation to last month’s talks in Switzerland is still evaluating the first round of negotiations and briefing the leadership on them.
Mr. Shaaban did not say when a decision on attending next week’s proposed talks would be made, only saying that the delegation is waiting on instructions from Syria’s leadership.
Despite Damascus’ dithering, Mr. Assad’s chief ally, Russia, expressed confidence earlier this week that the Syrian government would indeed return to the peace talks in Geneva.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels launched an offensive in the northern province of Aleppo on Thursday, as government airstrikes killed at least 11 people in an opposition—held neighborhood of the provincial capital, activists said.
In the past five days alone, airstrikes with so—called barrel bombs have killed at least 246 people, including 73 children, in Aleppo, the Britain—based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said