The Palestinian community’s fate in the ongoing conflict in Syria appeared increasingly precarious this quarter. While humanitarian conditions in Yarmouk r.c. outside Damascus remained dire, renewed fighting nr. the Syrian capital put another predominantly Palestinian community, Khan Eshieh r.c., at risk. Fighting between armed rebel groups and Syrian govt. forces escalated nr. the camp late on 5/16, killing at least 12 people.
Syrian-Israeli talks, officially suspended in February 1994, were reported by senior U.S. officials on 12/30 to have continued in about 24 secret, high-level meetings in Washington over the past six months. The first publicly acknowledged meeting since the suspension was held in Washington on 12/9 in the presence of U.S. Special Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross, paving the way for the first official Syrian-Israeli talks since the suspension that began in Washington on 12/22. These talks, soon joined by military chiefs of staff, ended on 12/25 without progress, with Pres. al-Asad reportedly "overwhelmed by what he considered Israel's inflexibility during the military talks" (NYT, 3/15). Pres. al-Asad recalled his ambassador to the U.S., Walid Mu'allim, effectively suspending the talks once again.