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The Latest: Syrian gov't exits Geneva talks over Assad memo

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Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 4:18 AM

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the war in Syria (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

The head of Syria's government delegation to the peace talks in Geneva has blasted the opposition for a communique in which it stated its ultimate goal was to remove President Bashar Assad from power.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Bashar Ja'afari said his team will be leaving the Swiss city on Saturday. He said Damascus will decide whether the delegation would return Tuesday to resume participation in the talks.

The U.N.'s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said Thursday that the current round of peace talks will run through until Dec. 15.

But Ja'afari said Friday there can be no progress as long as the opposition insists on its so-called Riyadh 2 communique, which he described as "provocative and irresponsible."

He said the communique did not take into consideration the reality on the ground in the war-torn country, which has changed over the past two years in the government's favor.

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2:15 p.m.

An international aid group says booby traps, land mines and ammunition left behind by Islamic State militants in Raqqa are still a source of critical injury, six weeks after the fighting ended.

Doctors Without Borders says 49 patients with blast injuries arrived at a clinic run by the organization in eastern Raqqa in just 10 days at the end of November.

With many roads damaged or blocked, it can take up to two hours by ambulance to reach the nearest hospital with surgical capacity. As a result, people with critical injuries are at risk of dying before or during the journey, it said.

IS militants occupied Raqqa and it was their de facto capital for nearly four years. Kurdish-led forces led by the United States freed the city in mid-October.

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