Little hope of new truce in Syria

2012-10-22 20:20

Damascus - Hopes of a truce being implemented in war-torn Syria during this week's Muslim Eid holidays are "slim," the Arab League said on Monday, as heavy fighting erupted in Damascus and on northern battlefields.

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had on Sunday indicated a favourable response to his appeal to both sides of the Syrian conflict to observe a truce during the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins on Friday.

But Arab League deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli told AFP Monday that there is little chance of such a truce coming into effect.

"Unfortunately, hope for implementing the truce during Eid al-Adha is slim so far," Ben Helli said on the sidelines of the World Energy Forum in Dubai.

"The signs, both on the ground and by the government... do not point to the presence of any real will" to implement a ceasefire, he said.

Even as Ben Helli spoke, fierce fighting raged across Syria, including around Damascus, the northern city of Aleppo and the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan in the northwest province of Idlib. Reports also emerged of the abduction of two regime officials from Daraa in the south.

Brahimi said a truce during Eid al-Adha could allow the start of a more permanent peace initiative.

"This is a call to every Syrian, on the street, in the village, fighting in the regular army and its opponents, for them to take a unilateral decision to stop hostilities," he said on Sunday.

Brahimi said he contacted political opposition leaders inside and outside Syria and armed groups in the country and "found them to be very favourable" to the idea of a truce.

No let-up

President Bashar Assad during a meeting with Brahimi said he was "open to any sincere efforts seeking to find a political solution to the crisis based on respecting Syria's sovereignty and rejecting any foreign interference," state media reported.

Al-Baath newspaper, the ruling party's mouthpiece, seemed cold to the idea however, saying rebels had already given their reply: a bomb attack on Sunday in Bab Touma, a Christian quarter of Damascus, in which 13 people died.

"Armed terrorist groups responded to Brahimi's [ceasefire] appeal with a series of explosions in Damascus, including a suicide bombing in Bab Touma, leaving dozens dead or wounded," it said.

On the ground, there was no sign on Monday of a let-up in the violence.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes erupted in the morning when troops tried to storm the rebel-controlled town of Harasta on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus.

It also said Syrian soldiers fought pitched battles with rebels near Maaret al-Numan and around an army base in nearby Wadi Daif, in Idlib province.

According to the watchdog, Monday's clashes were the fiercest seen yet around Wadi Daif base, which has been besieged for nearly two weeks by Free Syrian Army fighters and jihadist militants.

The Observatory said a checkpoint near the base was in flames after it was attacked by the rebels, who killed at least nine soldiers.

Maaret al-Numan, a strategic town on the Aleppo-Damascus highway, has been the scene of intense fighting since it fell to rebels on October 9, severing a key army supply route.

In the northern commercial capital Aleppo, which has been battered by more than three months of clashes, insurgents blew up a bridge of a train line, used mainly to transport fuel, residents said. A military source confirmed the report.

Large attack

Fierce machine-gun battles broke out near Aleppo's ancient Umayyad Mosque, as troops fended off rebel attacks on their checkpoints, said a military source.

"Until now we have kept them at bay, but this is a large attack."

Meanwhile, "terrorists" abducted general prosecutor Tayssir Smadi from outside the civil court in Daraa, SANA news agency said. The Observatory confirmed the report and said gunmen also kidnapped Baath Party member Mahmud Akrad.

The Observatory said at least 63 people, including 15 civilians were killed on Monday across Syria, adding to a toll of more than 34 000 people the group says have been killed since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March last year.

And in Lebanon fresh sectarian fighting erupted on Monday, between opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime after Friday's killing in a massive Beirut car bombing blamed on the Damascus government.

On the Jordan border, a Jordanian soldier was killed before dawn on Monday in a clash with militants trying to cross into Syria, Amman's information minister Samih Maaytah told AFP.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-22 20:48

    When you pay terrorists to fight, no one expects them to forego their wages. It's a kind of an incentive, why would they want the fighting to stop.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 01:19

      I assume you're speaking of the Jihadists, paid by Al-Quaida, trying to take advantage of the situation, and who are in the minority, making up approximately 5% to 10% of those removing Assad from unelected power.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 00:55

    . let's get bthis straight......!! this assad monster can pay his soldiers, every month !! These Russian dogs, aka, 'advisers and experts' can get paid every month !! But if AFTER EIGHTEEN MONTHS, some of the freedom fighters, get a $150 payment, they are mercenaries!!! Quite frankly, these brave freedom fighters, could not give a damn what you call them. They are on a mission to get rid of a monstrous dictator, and they will succeed!! FOR SURE !!! Ohhhh, by the way, the brave ones who fought for SA majority rule, they were ALSO paid, by various organisations. They too , were mercenaries ????????????????????????????????? Coming to think of it, Both you Fidel and this Patrick, during SA struggle for freedom, MUST have been NATS supporters, and most probably are still today!!!!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 07:51

      . Either NAT/AWB supporters or some disturbed split personality!!! One can't the one day believe in MAJORITY rule, and than the next day support a murderous DICTATOR !!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-23 07:58

      That is a false binary, there are always shades of grey. "The test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." -Scott Fitzgerald

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 08:19

      . Between MINORITY and MAJORITY, there are NO shades of grey !!!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-23 08:41

      There are, the people who supports neither of the two!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 09:40

      . If you believe there are more than 5 % of the world population who prefer a dictator above some system of accountability, you are ten times more dumb than I thought, and than that is pretty dumb !!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-23 09:52

      In future, please give it just a few seconds, in your case it might take a little longer, of thought between (mis)reading posts and responding. Again, responding to what you want to refute, and not what I wrote!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 15:08

      Fidel, how much thought did oyu give the idea that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom? You have the temerity to lecture people about thinking correctly? This is the height of arrogance and delusion. You are the height of arrogance and delusion.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-23 10:43

    All can say is..we have a mess in Syria now ..thanks to foreign intervention,now they want peace and to lead a peace keeping force..what nerve to think that the Syrian government will trust them at all,so non starter..Libya is also now descending into sectarian strife,the same will happen in Syria no doubt,that is if N.A.T.O.has anything more to do with Syria!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 11:47

      . Your sentiments about Libya , are only shared by the loonies of the violent left< and most certainly not by the fast majority of Libyans. Yes Libya has got a problem with some pockets of terrrorists, but no more than we here in SA, like these 'boeremag' thugs. and here in SA we got this problem, after..............8 years of getting rid of a MINORITY government, compared to Libya, less than one year !!!!! But keep your violent dreams going, it seeems to facinate you !!!

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