Syria truce hopes slim as violence rages

2012-10-23 14:32

Damascus - Hopes of a truce in war-torn Syria during this week's Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday remained slim on Tuesday as clashes showed no signs of easing and the death toll mounted.

"Neither the rebels nor the regime appear to want a ceasefire, and the daily death toll continues to exceed 100," Syrian Observatory of Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Observatory said warplanes raided a district of the northern city of Aleppo as fighting across the country kept up unabated, three days ahead of Eid, during which peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has proposed a ceasefire.

In Syria's second city Aleppo, a rebel was killed in fighting that was taking place in several districts, while planes bombed the Katergi quarter, the Observatory said.

In the Damascus provincial town of Harasta, at least three rebels were killed and a civilian died from sniper fire, the Britain-based group said.

In the capital, security forces carried out searches in the Zahira quarter, and one man was killed in a bomb attack on the southeastern outskirts.

The Observatory also reported fighting in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and in Daraa, southern Syria.

And the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan came under aerial bombardment, as fierce clashes broke out in nearby Jisr al-Shughur and around the army base at Wadi Daif, which has been under siege by rebels for more than a week.

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

Peace keeping force plans

Near Syria's border with Iraq, bombing killed three civilians in the town of Albu Kamal, the Observatory said, giving an initial toll of at least 10 people killed nationwide on Tuesday.

The Arab League on Monday dampened hopes of a truce.

"Unfortunately, hope for implementing the truce during Eid al-Adha is slim so far," Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Ben Helli told AFP 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 truce," he said.

In the face of the 19-month revolt against his regime, President Bashar Assad issued an amnesty on Tuesday for all crimes committed in Syria "up until today", state television said, but with rebels excluded.

Despite the violence, the United Nations has held to the hope that the foes will observe a truce during the four-day Eid, saying it had plans to assemble a peacekeeping force if a ceasefire takes hold.

"We are getting ourselves ready to act if it is necessary and a mandate is approved," UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said in New York, cautioning that the plans would need the approval of the 15-nation Security Council.

The UN-Arab League peace envoy Brahimi has 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.

National dialogue

A senior Iranian official said Tehran could soon host a "national dialogue" in the region among all the parties to the conflict.

"Representatives of the [Syrian] government and all political and opposition groups will soon begin a national dialogue in a regional country, and possibly in Tehran," said Hossein Amir Abdollahian, deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs.

"Some opposition groups have however rejected this idea, but we are continuing our efforts to persuade them," he added.

Armed opposition groups reject any Iranian involvement, reflecting the view the United States and some Western and Arab countries hold that Tehran is discredited by its unwavering support for Assad.

Brahimi has said a temporary truce could be the first step to dialogue on a more permanent peace and warned that the conflict poses a threat to the whole region.

Assad met the envoy in Damascus on Sunday and 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."

The Syrian Observatory said at least 115 people, including 43 civilians, were killed across the country on Monday, adding to a toll of more than 34 000 people killed since the anti-regime revolt erupted in March 2011.

In Lebanon, 11 people have been killed in clashes between pro- and anti-Assad camps in the port city of Tripoli since the assassination on Friday of a top security official in a Beirut bomb blast widely blamed on Damascus.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-23 14:56

    Peace will not come to Syria because that is not the objective, but regime change and those pulling the strings will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, irrespective of how many Syrians die, because contrary to popular belief, Syrian lives are the least of their concerns.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 15:05

      You ignore the fact that the unelected dictator of the country killed thousands of unarmed demonstrators, detained, tortured and raped tens of thousands more for eleven months, using the Syrian state and its military against his own people. What did you expect the Syrians and the world to do? Line up to be slaughtered? It's obvious then who is not concerned about Syrian lives: you. You also openly believe that Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom. Your exact words in the US/Mandela thread. What world are you in fact seeing? Clearly not the real one.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 15:16

      WRONG AGAIN !!!! Peace will come to Syria, but only once this assad monster is toppled. This 'cease fire' is not a good idea, as this assad scum , will only use it to regroup his terrorists army. Dictators are not very good to take orders from ANYONE !!!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 17:56

      Patrick, Finished mowing the lawn , for the Madam ?? NO, you don't have the intelligence to understand that Mandela did not give in , to any Western demands, but knew what 'his' people demanded from him; "Foreign Investments and JOBS" And Mandela was smart enough to realize that almost EIGHTY PERCENT of INVESTMENTS and JOB creation would come from ther USA and Western Europe !!!! It is ONLY the loonies of the violent left who have got an obsession with Al-Quada!!! The Syrian freedom fighters are receiving some money to sestain themselves and their families, exactly like the brave men and women in SA, were paid, by various organisations. Or you believe, these South Africans were also 'mercenaries' ?????????? For a NAT supporter like you, it would not supprise me at all !!!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 19:07

      Patrick, Just between you and me; Are you born like this, or did you fall on your head as a child ???

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 19:58

      patrick, YOU are actually the rot we don't want in SA, YOU filthy AWB member !!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 20:45

      Patrick, does this mean that you believe Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncke Tom, like Fidel?

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 21:26

      Nelson Mandela gave into Westen demands to take power over South Africa? Okay, clearly, Fidel and Patrick are the same person. Both posts say the same totally immature and delusional thing.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 21:40

      Patrick Edwards/Fidel can't read and comprehend. No surprise there.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-24 06:38

      . Are we not fortunate, that this Fidel and Patrick only have the support of not even 5 % of the population of Africa. It is PROVEN, with elections held all over this continent, including SA. Their minds , with their silly and inmature anti Western BS , are not only confused, but soo full of HATRED that they have lost any sense of reality. Take US emergency aid to the Horn of Africa, to aoid tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands Africans starving to death. Just in the last 2 years.....more than ONE BILLION US DOLLARS!!!!! And this Fidel and Patrick, are sooo full of HATRED for the Americans, thery would rather let these African starve to death !! HOW ROTTEN CAN ONES MIND BE ?????????? It is the mind of AWB members; selfish, supporting minority rule, hatred, racism and soo much violence. No wonder Africa despices these radicals/extremists !!!

  • issa.kabudula - 2012-10-23 15:38

    Asad for me he suppose to surrender the first week of uprising, its too late now for both option surrender or not surrender still things won't be as it was, fear n stress will kill Asad sooner or later. We have seen other powerful leaders been slaughtered on false pretence that they have weapons of mass destruction - until now I never see any piece of that weapon be it in Iraq or in Afghanistan. Asad time is now bow down kids, women, old men/women are suffering some where in the land, the countries is being burnt down including the forest is this what Islam teaches us? The answer is no.

  • shane.loxton - 2012-10-23 19:04

    If Russia and Iran have been culpable, there has been a catastrophic failure of diplomacy by the west and its allies. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's call for a ceasefire and an arms embargo is a welcome challenge to the west's floundering policy. Britain, France and the US, as well as their allies, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, need to recognise that neither side is going to win the civil war engulfing Syria. Nor will the Turkey's call for western military intervention to halt the humanitarian disaster resolve the crisis. A political solution has to be the priority. The Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad, is reported to be willing to consider the proposal by the UN-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, for a ceasefire for the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday on 26 October. The western powers and the Arab arms suppliers should urge their friends in the opposition to declare they will reciprocate if Assad makes good on his tentative promise. Western demands for regime change were never going to work because this isn't simply a conflict between a savage regime and the Syrian people. Assad and the ruling Shia-aligned Alawite minority form a tenth of the population and fear being oppressed by the Sunni majority. Christians and other minorities are similarly nervous. Together, those behind Assad constitute nearly a third of Syrians.

      shane.loxton - 2012-10-23 19:05

      The war has also become a wider proxy for Sunni versus Shia, and Saudi Arabia versus Iran. There is also bitter suspicion at the west's real intentions from Russia and China and their allies. They insist that they never authorised UN backing for military force to depose Muammar Gaddafi last year, and refuse to be "tricked" again. The Iraq invasion also poisons trust of the west. Libya today – its people at the mercy of warring militias and jihadist opportunists, the US ambassador assassinated – is hardly a good advertisement for repeating that regime-change recipe in more complex Syria. David Cameron's recent high-minded rhetoric at the UN general assembly ignored the presence of al-Qaida fighters among the west's favoured rebels.Assad and the minorities and other popular forces that support him fear becoming victims of genocide, so will fight on. If the Syrian regime was somehow toppled without a settlement being in place, the country would descend into even greater chaos. Russia is determined not to allow that anarchy, mainly because Syria provides its only Mediterranean port in the region. Iran also has key interests, malevolent or otherwise. Syrian refugees have already flooded into Turkey and Lebanon, the latter destabilised, with its police chief assassinated, and now plunged into a political crisis.

      shane.loxton - 2012-10-23 19:07

      The only way forward is to broker a political settlement, with Russia using its leverage to ensure that Assad negotiates seriously. Without pandering to Vladimir Putin's ruthless rigidity, engagement with Russia is critical – as is consultation with Iran. Otherwise a settlement will not happen.The guidelines for a political transition approved by the five permanent members of the UN security council at the Geneva conference in June still provides the best road map – but only if the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and their allies drop their current stance and help to implement it. However unpalatable, Assad may have to be granted immunity in order to get him to sign up and stop his barbarity. All state employees, including those in the armed forces, must be allowed to keep their posts, to avoid a repeat of the chaos caused by America's de-Ba'athification in Iraq. A Yemen-type process may even figure. There, a hated president did not resign but did not stand for re-election. A coalition government of national unity could then prepare for Syrian elections, due in 2014. The current British-American policy is failing on a monumental scale. Unless there is a radical change, all the hand-wringing and condemnation is either empty or hypocritical – or both.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-23 19:16

      You are preaching to the converted....a refreshing post nonetheless, with insight, analysis and facts. Thanks!

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-23 19:20

      Shane you have once again given a wonderful and informative account of how things stand in this tradgic civil war,your summation is accurate and solution orientated..I can bet you that you will get no further comment from either of tweedeldee or tweedeldum,as usual they will shuffle off the floor of intelligent debate into numb obscurity..well done for a great article..come on news 24 award this man as commentator of the year for his contributions!

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-23 19:47

      . Shame, at the border......of Bloemfontein and Welkom, A long long story with all irrelevant stuff, and so typical of the violent loony left,; it is all about confusing the real issue; The overthrow of a psychopathic dictator, who , like his daddy, has gone on a murdering spree!! It is not Iran, Russia,nor the USA , who are going to determine the future off Syria, but the Syrians themselves. You talk about the "current British/American" policy........... WHAT are you talking about???? The main problem is that there is NO British Nor an American policy towards Syria!!!!! You just cook all this BS up in your head, as it looks a bit better than plainly supporting a MASS MURDERER

      Shane Loxton - 2012-10-23 20:35

      Shame Toos that u honestly believe im in bloemfontein shows your blind belief and ramblings are simply just that, U are susceptible to false information and take it as truth, thanks for helping me prove a point about u, your assistance was appreciated.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 21:08

      There's good information there, Shane, except that your anti-West prejudice still shines through. The fact that Fidel, Patrick and Dunkie agree with you are big red flags. Russia wants to prevent chaos in Syria to ensure its access to the Mediteranean? Yeah right. Try: Russia wants to dominate Syrians and their families into maintaining its access to the Mediterranean, by arming the unelected dictator of that country, who is literally murdering them in their homes. This is more accurate and real. Moreover, the freer world has learnt that you don't negotiate with terrorists, which Assad and his brother clearly are. From your post, clearly You would negotiate with Stalin, Mao and Hitler. Doesn't work. Never has. Never will. This knowledge and understanding only comes with maturity and wisdom garnered from real experience. The failure in Syria is due to neo-Soviet Russian aspirations under Putin, and emotionally detached neo-Communist ideologies of Politburo-run China; and A lack of real leadership in the freer world which would forge ahead on high principles to protect Syrians and their families from this obvious abuse, cruelty, and barbarity. Short-man Putin wound obviously back down, and China wound do nothing. Shane, you won't collate energy in-formation (information) into higher paradoxical truth by maintaining your anti-West prejudice.

      duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-23 21:38

      Well time will tell who is right and who is wrong..we all await with great keenness to see this situation resolved.Shane you at least approach the debate with much effort and intelligence I stand firmly on your side,your comment inspires debate and doesn't slander,insult and expound a fanatical view!A lesson some of us should take seriously to heart on this forum.You raise the bar mate..well done again!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 21:41

      More infantile than that one cannot find.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-23 22:40

      Dunkie, again, notwithstanding what your Ego says, you only speak for yourself. Codependency is not healthy and strong.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-24 02:47

      Patrick, again, just writing words doesn't make them true. They have to be based on something real.

      Shane Loxton - 2012-10-24 06:09

      Fred, by sticking labels on people u not only loose the essence of your debate but also the moral high ground. Sadly u seem to like this, I can honestly say if u were the first SA i met i most probably would have thought SA's were a bunch of morons, but thankfully i know different. As Duncan said only time will tell.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-24 15:33

      Please point out where I have put "a label" on you, Shane. You have not responded to the substance of what I wrote. Have you not labelled me a moron?

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