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Syrian priest hopeful ahead of peace talks

Three former international war crimes prosecutors have accused Syria's government of carrying out large scale killings and torture.

Some of the victims had no eyes, while other showed signs of strangulation, starvation and electrocution. Sir Desmond De Silva, one of the report's co-authors, described the photographs as "very harrowing" and said victims had suffered the "most awful" injuries.

He said:

"These killings were clearly methodical, daily and systematic as a consequence. They could certainly underpin a charge of crime against humanity.

"This industrial killing of people in detention is clearly the work of the Syrian government."

The 31-page report documents what the authors call the systematic killing of 11 thousand detainees has been released ahead of peace talks in Geneva tomorrow.  Revd Nadim Nassar is a Syrian priest and the Director of the Awareness Foundation.

He told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour if the conference goes ahead the world will witness history being made: 

Ahead of tomorrow's peace talks between both sides of the conflict in Geneva, Cardinal-designate Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, is calling for all people of good will to join in prayers for peace in Syria and for the success of the planned talks this week between all those involved in the conflict. 

In a statement, he said

"Pope Francis and the bishops of Syria have all pleaded for peace between the warring factions in that troubled land in which four out of every ten people have now fled their homes. Today we pray that this vale of tears may be comforted with an end to fighting."

Meanwhile, aid agency Christian Aid, which has been assisting some of the millions of Syrians who have fled the conflict to camps in neighbouring countries has also welcomed the international peace conference in Geneva.

However, Christian Aid's Head of Middle East Janet Symes said:

"Only an inclusive political settlement will bring the violence to an end and enable the people of Syria to rebuild their lives.

"Civil society has a crucial role to play in supporting non-violence within the process. It is essential that appropriate mechanisms allow them to engage fully, and represent a broader number of Syrians."

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has said it would be "unforgivable not to seize this opportunity" to end a conflict that has left more than 100,000 people dead and driven 9.5 million from their homes. Two months ahead of the third anniversary of the start of the crisis, these are the first direct talks between both sides in the conflict.

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