February 16, 2015 / 3:58 PM / 3 years ago

Syrian insurgent group says it will not meet 'biased' U.N. envoy

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A Syrian insurgent group on Monday criticized as “biased” a United Nations envoy seeking a ceasefire between government forces and armed groups in Aleppo and said it would not meet him.

The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) statement followed comments on Friday by Staffan de Mistura in which the U.N. mediator called President Bashar al-Assad “part of the solution for the reduction of the violence” and said he would continue discussions with him, after talks in Damascus last week.

“The Council with all its factions has decided to reject meeting the UN mediator due to his dishonest position towards the revolution of the Syrian people,” the RCC statement said.

Since October de Mistura has been working on a plan to broker “local freezes” in Syria, where civil war has killed more than 200,000 people in four years. Rebel groups in the north have expressed misgivings about the plan, saying it could benefit Assad’s forces.

De Mistura’s spokeswoman told Reuters there was “concern” over the RCC’s announcement.

“We are aware of the referred-to statement and continue to follow with interest and concern the reactions coming out from the different groups and entities,” she said.

Diplomats said earlier this month that talks on the plan were deadlocked, with Damascus feeling it does not need to make concessions to disparate armed groups.

Aleppo, Syria’s second city, is at the heart of clashes between government forces and allied militia and a range of insurgents which include al Qaeda’s Syria wing Nusra Front, Islamist brigades, foreign fighters and Western-backed rebels.

The Revolutionary Command Council was formed late last year with the aim of unifying rebel fighters who do not belong to hardline Islamist groups such as Islamic State and Nusra Front.

Reporting by Sylvia Westall, Mariam Karouny, Dasha Afanasieva and Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by Andrew Roche

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