Brahimi wades back into Syria fray

2012-10-11 14:59

Damascus - UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi waded back into the Syrian fray on Thursday, even as rebels and regime troops fought pitched battles for control of key northern towns leaving dozens dead.

Brahimi's arrival in Saudi Arabia for talks with officials in the kingdom comes amid rising tension between Syria and Turkey, made worse after a Syrian passenger jet was forced to land in Ankara where some of its cargo was seized.

The envoy, who has previously held out little prospect for a negotiated end to a conflict both sides seem determined to decide on the battlefield, would have "wide-ranging talks on the prolonged crisis in Syria", said his spokesperson.

Brahimi had first gone to the Middle East in mid-September, visiting Damascus, where he met Syrian President Bashar Assad - but earned no promises of concessions from him.

In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Brahimi would soon return to Damascus to try again to meet with Assad.

Ban suggested Brahimi could go to the Syrian capital next week if his meetings in the region this week were productive.

69 killed

Brahimi's second regional tour comes as Syrian forces battle rebels across the country, with fighting focused in an eastern belt of Damascus, in the northern city of Aleppo, in the central city of Homs and in Daraa province in the south.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 69 people were killed in clashes on Wednesday in the northern province of Idlib, where rebels are trying to secure a swathe of territory abutting the Turkish border that will serve as a "buffer zone".

Regime forces from early Thursday resumed shelling of Maaret al-Numan, seized two days earlier by rebels and which has since been the theatre of heavy fighting, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Syria's army has sent reinforcements to help retake Maaret al-Numan and other nearby towns so that road links can be restored with Aleppo, which since mid-July has been one of the main focuses of the civil war.

But insurgents say they have been trying to halt the advance using rocket launchers and improvised explosive devices.

The rebels on Wednesday launched an attack on army positions in Aleppo's landmark Umayyad Mosque in the heart of the Old City adding to the urgency for the army to restore its supply lines.

Intensified operations

In the central province of Homs, the town of Qusayr and rebel districts in the city of Homs were shelled and bombed by warplanes on Thursday, the Observatory said.

The army has intensified operations against Homs and Qusayr, which have been besieged by troops for months, vowing to overrun them by the end of the week to free up forces for northern battle zones.

Nationwide at least 198 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, the Observatory said, adding to more than 32 000 who have died since the start of the uprising in March 2011.

Assad's regime has insisted the insurgents must stop the violence first as it turned down a call issued by the UN secretary general.

"We told Ban Ki-moon to send emissaries to the countries which have influence on the armed groups, so that they put an end to the violence," foreign ministry spokesperson Jihad Maqdisi said on Wednesday.

Russia, meanwhile, stepped into the row over a Syrian plane intercepted after it took off from Moscow carrying 35 passengers, including 17 Russians.

'Objectionable cargo'

Ankara scrambled two jets on Wednesday to force the Airbus A-320 jet to land in Ankara on suspicion it was carrying weapons and ammunition.

"We are concerned that this emergency situation put at risk the lives and safety of passengers, who included 17 Russian citizens," a Russian foreign ministry statement said.

"The Russian side continues to insist on an explanation of the reasons for such actions by the Turkish authorities."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "objectionable cargo" was seized from the passenger jet.

Anatolia news agency quoted officials as saying they suspected the aircraft was carrying arms.

"There is illegal cargo on the plane that should have been reported" in line with civil aviation regulations, Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Anatolia.

"There are elements on board that can be considered objectionable," he said, adding that Turkey would hold on to the cargo for further investigation but declining to elaborate on the contents.

Tensions have been running high between Ankara and Damascus since the eruption of the Syrian conflict and were inflamed after a series of shell strikes from Syria on Turkish soil, including one attack that killed five civilians last week.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-11 15:57

    All this diversion from the fact that Assad is still killing and raping the Syrian people . The international comunity has disgraced itself by effectually siding with dictators and human rights abusers. The UN has failed miserably again and added to its resume of absolute failures on its mandate and values. Annan failed , Brahimi is failing and its going to get worse. To think you could go back to the status quo is ridiculous , naive when the uprisings started, ridiculous when Assad feigned reform attempts to placate the population after vicious suppression and a absurdity now .So either Assad goes and the people get a chance for self determination or Assad supresses the revolution and the dictator wins setting a awful precedent. As it stands , we have world powers funding, supporting and arming the dictator and no-one standing for the people except the worst kind of oppertunists . A sad part of history where the proponents of freedom, human rights and democracy can forgo these very principles.

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-10-11 16:06

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-10-11 16:06

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-10-11 16:29

      @Tom - whats your point ? Every conflict lures mercaneries , is it the Wests fault? Is it the Syrian rebels fault ? Does it excuse the behaviour of Assad ? Does it make the Syrians aspirations for the right to vote ,freedom and democracy any less valid ? Can the Syrian army not manage their borders because they seem to be quite adept when it comes to Turkey.

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-10-11 16:44

      The fighters are imported through Turkey. "every conflict lures mercenaries" Does it? Who pays for them?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-11 18:24

      Ninja, You talk so much sense, while the ones from the violent loony left, can only talk so carbage and totally irrelevant crap. They have decided to support a MASS MURDERER, and try to make it as sweet as possible. They are abusing their freedom, they deny others !!!!!

      tom.guy.37669528 - 2012-10-11 18:42

      I only posted sources to reputable news agencies Anthony. It seems relevant to me. Ninjas how does it feel to side with this half wit I can see you have more intelligence than this clown.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-11 18:55

      Tom 74947656475473783464, STOP putting in so much effort to cover up that you support a -------DICTATOR--TYRANT--MASS MURDERRER--MASTER TERRORIST----- Here in SA, this is not unlawful, although not even 3 % of SA population would agree with you !!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 20:20

      Tom wants the Syrian people to be killed by the unelected dictator of that country and his brother, without defending themselves or receiving any help.

      imam.madi.129 - 2012-10-11 20:54

      I see no one has won over anyone to their side here huh. Allninjas, fred n anton still blinded by hate of muslims and supporting anyone who can go and kill them. On the other side, peace loving patric and co are still shouting for sanity in vain. Well for da record Anton, I am not left, I am a right wing nationalist with very strong islamic views. But I am matured enuf to know life would be boring if everyone was like me, so I would lay down my life to protect your right to hate me (am a nice guy I know, so thank you). Just try loving your enemy and see how therapeutic that is, I am experience there (I love tax man though his life mission and mine are probably mutual exclusive and as he take every penny my kids could use, I feel like strangling him but I just send him love letters every now and then). So, fred, go out there in the west and hug a palestinian and see if his eyes won't pop, both of you might enjoy it, but more so, you both need it.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 21:04

      Mahdi still trapping himself in his own pseudo-victimhood while members of his own community are slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims, about which he dies NOTHING. Tragically stupid.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-11 22:18

      Madhi, Thank you, thank you, I got tears in my eyes, I found myself, but......I also found you, a total nutcase !!!!

  • shane.loxton - 2012-10-11 18:34

    Any one who believes that the Good Old USA does not Orchestrat collapses of governments should read the book by John Perkin, called "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man". Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is John Perkins' fast-paced autobiography, which reveals his career as an economist for an international consulting firm. Perkins says he was actually an "Economic Hit Man." His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the United States to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to U.S. corporations. Perkins takes the reader through his career and explains how he created economic projections for countries to accept billions of dollars in loans they surely couldn't afford. He shares his battle with his conscience over these actions and offers advice for how Americans can work to end these practices which have directly resulted in terrorist attacks and animosity towards the United States.

      shane.loxton - 2012-10-11 18:36

      What Is An Economic Hit Man? Perkins defines economic hit men as "highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign ‘aid' organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization."

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-11 19:44

      shane well put but you notice they don't answer you these pro Yankee imperialists idiots..guess what you just put them in their place...well done Sir!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 20:33

      What has this to do with helping the Syrian people free themselves from decades of violent, brutal oppression at the hands of an unelected minority dictatorship? Nothing. Everyone knows the US is not helping them, only sending humanitarian aid to refugees. So your stupid obsession (and it is stupid) continues. And Dunkie who knows virtually nothing about what is really going on based on his posts here, agrees. He even believes the "imperialism" paradigm which is so old, stale, and self-destructive it's not even funny.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-11 20:43

      That's your personal belief Patrick, not true reality. There's a big difference unfortunately.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-12 05:03

      Shame, Yes, Economic Hit Man, great reading; BUT, WHAT has this got to do with a people wanting their freedom??????????? You are soooo unbelievable CONFUSED !!!

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