A truce that has allowed the evacuation of hundreds of civilians from besieged districts of Syria's Homs was extended for three days but fresh peace talks in Switzerland bogged down Monday in mutual recriminations.
The extension of the tenuous truce in Homs came as around 450 civilians were given safe passage out of the war-ravaged city, according to Syria's Red Crescent, bringing the total number allowed out since Friday to some 1,200.
The evacuation of civilians from neighbourhoods of Homa where they had been trapped for nearly 18 months was marred by violence over the weekend, with 14 people killed in shelling that threatened to derail the humanitarian mission.
In Geneva meanwhile, the warring sides blamed each other for escalating violence that has killed hundreds of people across the country in recent days, as they did throughout a previous round of talks in late January.
Ahead of the talks, mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told delegates to commit first to discussing both ending the fighting and setting up a transitional government.
Brahimi yesterday said the talks were “laborious” and reported little progress has been made.
The government side said combating "terrorism" - its catchall term for the revolt - should be agreed first. In a further bad sign, Brahimi cancelled a planned news conference.
The Syrian opposition warned it would not return for a third round if no progress was made in the current session.