May 30, 8:51 AM EDT

As peace talks stall, Syrian opposition negotiator resigns

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BEIRUT (AP) -- The chief Syrian opposition negotiator in the Geneva peace talks has resigned amid no signs of progress in the peace process that began earlier this year.

Mohammed Alloush said he took this step because the international community is not "serious" about reaching a solution for the country's five-year civil war. His statement, released late Sunday, also said that Syrian government forces continue attacking the opposition and besieging rebel-held areas, despite the three rounds of negotiations in Geneva.

The "proximity" talks that began in January have failed to make any progress amid contrary demands by the opposition team and the government delegation.

The Syrian opposition has insisted that political transition should come first while the government says fighting terrorism should be the priority. The last round was held in April and no date has been set for the next talks.

As evidence of the talks' failure, Alloush said that the United Nations has not been able to set up a transitional governing body for Syria or find a political solution to the crisis.

The opposition has been insisting that the President Bashar Assad and top official in his government have no role in Syria's future - or even during the transitional period.

Alloush said he handed in his resignation to the opposition's High Negotiations Committee and described his move as a "protest against the international community," which he hoped would come to realize "the importance of the Syrian blood that is being shed by the (Damascus) regime and its allies."

Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for U.N. special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told The Associated Press in Geneva that the resignation is an "internal matter for the HNC."

"We look forward to continuing our work with all sides to ensure that the process moves forward," she said.

Meanwhile, opposition activists reported intense government airstrikes in the northern province of Aleppo on Monday.

The province has witnesses some of the worst violence over the past months and has also seen clashes lately between rebels and members of the extremist Islamic State group, which captured several villages last week before losing two of them again on Sunday.

Also Monday, Syrian state media said the rebels shelled government-held parts of the provincial capital, Aleppo, inflicting casualties.

More than 160,000 civilians have been trapped by the fighting between IS and Syrian rebels and the aid group Doctors Without Borders last week evacuated one of the few remaining hospitals from the Aleppo area.

Meanwhile, the International Rescue Committee said that over the weekend, more than 8,000 people managed to escape villages and displacement camps to the east and south of the rebel-held town of Azaz.

IRC said that before the road, became too dangerous, some 6,000 people managed to flee the rebel stronghold of Marea to seek safety in Azaz. It added that more than 1,000 people managed to reach the Kurdish area of Afrin and more than 1,200 people have fled to a makeshift refugee camp on Yazibag mountain.


Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.

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