UN envoy says next phase in Syria talks ‘crucial’

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DAMASCUS, April 12, (APP/AFP): The UN peace envoy to Syria said Monday that an upcoming round of negotiations in Geneva would be “crucially important” in finding a solution to the country’s brutal five-year war.

Staffan de Mistura’s comments in Damascus came as offensives by Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate and allied rebels triggered a spike in violence that could endanger the negotiations due to resume Wednesday.

And the United States raised concern over the partial ceasefire that has largely held since February 27, alarmed by reports that Russian-backed government troops are planning a major offensive to retake the city of Aleppo.