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Louay Safi, spokesperson for the Syrian National Coalition, Syria's main political opposition group, gestures as he talks to journalists after a meeting with the Syrian government at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Switzerland, Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014. A second round of peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition bogged down quickly Tuesday in recriminations about who was responsible for escalating violence that has killed hundreds in the past few days and disrupted food aid for trapped civilians. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Major U.N. peace conference in Switzerland

The United Nations on Friday halted the evacuation of civilians from the blockaded city of Homs until the fate of men detained from the rebel-held areas becomes clear, a senior U.N. official said.

The development came just a day after a cease-fire was extended for three more days, the second such extension since the truce first went into effect last week. Hundreds more civilians are believed to still be trapped in rebel-held parts of the city, mostly in the medieval quarter known as Old Homs.

Matthew Hollingworth, deputy U.N. team leader for the Homs mission, told The Associated Press by telephone from Damascus that dozens of men and boys aged 15 to 55 — who left Old Homs earlier during the evacuation — are still being held and questioned by Syrian authorities.



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