A US administration official said on Wednesday that the Syrian regime had arrested relatives of the opposition’s delegation to the peace talks in Geneva earlier this month.
The US was “outraged” by reports that the Syrian government “has arrested family members of the Syrian opposition coalition delegation to the Geneva II peace talks, designated delegates as terrorists, and seized delegates’ assets,” Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said.
“We call on the regime to immediately and unconditionally release all those unfairly arrested.”
Among those held was Mahmoud Sabra, the brother of Geneva delegation member Mohammed Sabra.
Through such actions the Syrian regime was “not only defying the international community but also seeking to suppress the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people”, Psaki said.
A second round of the UN-led talks in the Swiss city, dubbed Geneva II, broke down in acrimony on February 15, only weeks after the rival parties sat down in January for the first time in the three-year civil war to seek a political settlement.
So far no date has been set for the talks to resume.
Meanwhile, the international mission to rid Syria of its chemical weapons by June 30 said on Wednesday that a batch of sulphur mustard, widely known as mustard gas, was shipped out of the country.
Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint operation by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, called for Syria to continue its efforts to relinquish its arsenal “in a safe, secure and timely manner, through systematic, predictable and high-volume movements”.
The mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical stockpile said the Assad government has missed at least two deadlines in the past two months to remove chemicals.