Smoke rises at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in the Al-Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo January 31, 2014. (REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah)
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After more than a week of negotiations aimed at ending its civil war, Syria's government refused Friday to commit to a date for the next round of peace talks and roundly dismissed the opposition's demand to transfer power away from President Bashar Assad.The standoff over what comes after Assad – and the uncertainty over U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi's proposed Feb. 10 date for a second round of peace talks – underscored the tremendous challenges in finding a way out of Syria's deadly impasse. Brahimi said the opposition had committed to joining a second round of talks in Geneva on Feb. 10, but Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that before the government decides when to return to Geneva, Assad will hear a report on what took place during the past week. The minister also dismissed the opposition's demand for a new governing body to eventually transfer power from Assad. The talks were strained over the opposition's demand for – and the government's resistance to – a transfer of power in Syria.
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