Militants down chopper in Syria, say activists

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

8 p.m.

A Syrian opposition activist group says insurgents have shot down a government helicopter gunship killing three officers in the country’s southwest.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday’s shooting of the helicopter with a missile killed a brigadier general, a colonel and a major.

It said the area where the helicopter was shot down has been witnessing fighting between government forces and fighters of different insurgent groups. The incident occurred near the village of Beit Jin that is close to the border with Lebanon.

The head of the Syrian government delegation to the peace talks in Geneva Bashar Ja’afari confirmed the shooting down of the helicopter in an interview with the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

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7:45 p.m.

The office of the U.N. Special Envoy to Syria has released the so-called 12 Living Intra-Syrian Essential Principles document for life post war in the country which was distributed to the government and opposition delegations meeting in Geneva this week.

The statement said that Staffan de Mistura has requested that the delegations further reflect upon and offer responses to the living principles document when the talks resume next week.

The release came hours after the head of the government delegation, Bashar Ja’afari, told reporters that de Mistura had put forward the principles document without consulting with the delegations.

De Mistrua’s office said the principles seek to embody end-state commonalities and seek to offer an enduring perspective on the vision of a future that can be shared by all Syrians, but do not address the question of how to realize that vision.

The 12 principles include respect of and full commitment to Syria’s national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity and that the Syrian people alone shall determine the future of their country by democratic means.

It also calls for a strong, unified, meritocratic and national army that carries out its duties in accordance with the constitution and the highest standards.

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7 p.m.

The spokesman for the Syrian opposition insists it has “no preconditions” in a new round of U.N.-mediated peace talks, while suggesting that a looming walkout by the government delegation “is a precondition in itself.”

Yahya Aridi spoke to reporters shortly before the opposition met with U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura’s team as part of the eighth round of indirect talks under his…

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