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Syrian children continue to suffer from regime, Russia: White Helmets

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Syrian children are continuing to suffer at the hands of the Bashar Assad regime as well as its backer Russia amid the ongoing war, the White Helmets Syrian civil defense group said on Saturday, marking International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. “We remember thousands of children who were killed by the Assad regime and its Russian ally, children who were forcibly disappeared into death prisons, and more than 3 million Syrian children who are out of education,” the White Helmets wrote on Twitter. “While more than 6.5 million children in Syria are in dire need of assistance, Russia refuses the extension of U.N. supplies sent across the border. We must remind the world that Syrian children deserve to live in peace, not merely dreams and wishes,” it added. “Syrian children suffer from various types of violence due to the forced displacement by the regime and Russia to camps that lack the most basic necessities of life, and after the destruction of their schools and homes, leaving them easy prey for ignorance and diseases,” the group said. As Syrians try to survive under the decadelong war conditions in the country, another round of talks to reach a consensus on a constitution for Syria has failed. This week’s meetings of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, seeking a solution to the ongoing civil war, ended on Friday with the U.N. special envoy for Syria saying in a statement that he “appreciated the tone” of the talks. Geir Pedersen after the fifth day of talks said he “appreciated the tone and substantive nature of the dialogue in the room” and that the regime in Syria and the opposition sides had agreed on the next session to resume in Geneva from July 25 to 29. “On some, the differences remained significant,” said Pedersen. “There were areas of potential common ground on others.” The special envoy also said he had “identified the slow pace of work and the continuing inability to identify and conclude concrete areas of provisional agreement as areas where there is much room for improvement.” Pedersen reiterated his “appeal to all members to work with a sense of compromise and toward constitutional texts that would likely attract broad support among Syrians.” Among issues discussed this week were “unilateral coercive measures from a constitutional standpoint,” preserving and strengthening state institutions, the supremacy of the constitution, the hierarchy of international agreements and transitional justice. The last round of talks for a solution to the war in Syria had ended in Geneva on March 25, with none of the parties offering any signs they would proceed to another level of negotiations. Members of the “Small Group” responsible for writing the constitution – comprising 15 representatives from the Assad regime, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the Syrian opposition – met for the eighth round of talks at a Geneva hotel. Pedersen said the draft constitutional texts of each side were discussed on the first day of the current session with a chair from the regime and opposition sides present. Delegations submitted revisions to their texts on the fifth day after the week’s discussions.

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