United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura yesterday appealed to the Syrian government and opposition to take advantage of the historic opportunity offered by the Geneva political process to negotiate an end to six years of war.
"There are spoilers, we have seen it all the time during the last talks and perhaps they may even be attempting or tempted to (do) something before or during the talks to provoke one side or the other to walk out", he said.
"When the adherence to the ceasefire is not there", and when there are "games being played at the level of global terms of reference to political transition and a constitution [.] then the negotiations are not encouraging", Yehya al-Aridi, adviser to the High Negotiations Committee, the main opposition umbrella organisation, told Al Jazeera.
In previous rounds, the parties held indirect talks, with de Mistura shuttling from one delegation to the other.
Suicide bombers stormed two Syrian security offices in Homs on Saturday, killing dozens with gunfire and explosions including the head of military security, prompting airstrikes against the last rebel-held enclave in the western city. "Work together - I know it's not easy - but let's try to work together, to end this disgusting conflict, and lay the foundation for a country at peace with itself, sovereign and unified", said Staffan de Mistura.
"What happened today will not go unnoticed and we will react to it ..."
"Today, the Russian Federation did announce they have formally requested the government of Syria to silence their skies during the intra Syria talks", de Mistura said.
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At a press conference in Geneva late on Saturday, Bashar al-Jaafari, lead government negotiator, demanded that the opposition delegation officially condemn the attacks in Homs. They will be the first United Nations-mediated negotiations on Syria in nearly a year, during which time the geopolitical and military situations have massively changed. "The blood of Syrians is precious and those who kill Syrians will also be punished", he added.
De Mistura expressed hope that this terrorist attack would not affect the course of the Syrian reconciliation talks in Geneva. "We were expecting that".
Hayet Tahrir al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed the attack.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 42 people were killed, but provincial Governor Talal Barazi put the toll at 32 people dead and 24 wounded.
"What do they (Damascus delegation) mean by sponsors of terrorism?"
Further north, the Free Syrian Army said that Islamic State - which is excluded from a shaky two-month-old ceasefire - had been chased out of all of the strategic town of al-Bab. "You are the first ones to tell us it", de Mistura told both delegations in the United Nations assembly hall in Geneva.