Envoy suspended Syria talks over Russian escalation: U.N. official

Riad Hijab, Syrian opposition coordinator for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) leaves after a news conference after the Geneva peace talks were paused in Geneva, Switzerland, February 3 , 2016. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Syria peace mediator Staffan de Mistura suspended peace talks between the government and rebels due to the Russian military escalation, which is aimed at humiliating the opposition, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

“I think the special envoy decided to suspend the talks because the organization did not want to be associated with the Russian escalation in Syria, which risks undermining the talks completely,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

De Mistura halted until Feb. 25 his attempts to conduct Syrian peace talks after the army, backed by Russian air strikes, advanced against rebel forces north of Aleppo on Wednesday, choking opposition supply lines from Turkey to the city.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau