UN envoy urges Syria truce for Eid

2012-10-16 09:01

Damascus - International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has called for a ceasefire in Syria during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, as the revolt enters its 20th month with a death toll of more than 33 000.

Brahimi made his call on Monday as he shuttled between Syria's neighbours, which have been bitterly divided by the conflict along the confessional lines that have traditionally riven the Islamic world.

He was in Shi'ite-majority Iraq after talks in Shi'ite-ruled Iran, closest ally of the minority Alawite-dominated regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Last week, Brahimi visited Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the two Sunni-led states which have been the greatest champions of the Syrian opposition.

"Brahimi has appealed to the Iranian authorities to assist in achieving a ceasefire in Syria during the forthcoming Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays celebrated by the Muslims around the world," a statement from the envoy said.

Eid al-Adha, which falls at the end of October, marks the climax of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Political transition

"He reiterated the call by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for a ceasefire and a halt to the flow of arms to both sides. A ceasefire, he said, would help create an environment that would allow a political process to develop."

But Brahimi denied a claim by Ahmed Ramadan, an official from the main opposition Syrian National Council, that he sought a peacekeeping force.

"You've read that I have asked for peacekeeping," he told reporters in Baghdad. "I haven't."

Iran proposed to Brahimi a political transition supervised by Assad, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdolahian said, an idea unlikely to be acceptable to the opposition.

Turkey said on Sunday it had banned Syrian civilian aircraft from its airspace, mirroring a similar move by Damascus, as tensions soared after Ankara confiscated a cargo of radar equipment from a Syrian flight from Moscow last week.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that the cargo contained "war equipment".

Increasing tension

"There is no point in diverting and saying it is radar equipment. Radar equipment functions as war equipment anyway," he said.

The matching flight bans came amid increasing tensions on the long Syria-Turkey border, large swathes of which have been seized by rebels.

On 3 October, five Turkish civilians were killed by cross-border fire against the rebels that Syria charges are receiving arms from Gulf Arab states through Turkey.

The United States on Monday called on all Syria's neighbours to keep a careful watch over their airspace.

"Certainly we support the decision that Turkey has made in light of the apparent violation of their airspace by this aircraft," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

"We are encouraging all of Syria's neighbours to be vigilant with regard to how their airspace is used, particularly now that we have this concrete example."

Russian kidnapped

Meanwhile the European Union imposed a new package of unilateral sanctions on Damascus on Monday, its 19th since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, a traditional ally of Syria, visited Luxembourg on Sunday for talks with his EU counterparts, but British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday: "I can't say that we made any progress."

Russia and China have repeatedly blocked action at the UN Security Council against the Assad regime.

Ukraine said on Monday that one of its journalists working for a Russian television crew has been kidnapped.

The foreign ministry said Ankhar Kochneva, who had reportedly expressed support for Assad's regime, told her employers she was kidnapped on 9 October and was being held by the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Inside Syria, at least 16 soldiers were killed around two checkpoints near the commercial capital of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


Near one checkpoint, troops killed the driver of a vehicle carrying three tonnes of explosives that he intended to detonate, a security source said.

Aleppo has seen intense conflict for the past three months, including in the city's Unesco-listed historic heart, with damage to both the ancient covered market, or souk, and the landmark 13th century Umayyad Mosque.

A day after troops recaptured the complex from rebels, spent cartridges and broken glass still littered the ground, an AFP correspondent reported.

At least 130 people were killed nationwide on Monday, including three children who died in army shelling of the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, the Observatory said.

It said 78 of those killed were civilians.

The Syrian army, meanwhile, denied using cluster munitions and said it did not possess the weapon, state news agency SANA reported, after Human Rights Watch on Sunday urged the military to stop using cluster bombs.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-16 10:06

    Why apply it to Eid only? Is it okay if the killing is done during non religious days? These terrorists are doing everything in their limited power to avoid the tragedy of a ceasefire.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-16 12:15

      NO, so WRONG , as ALWAYS!!! These 'terrorists' are called opposition in EVERY other country of this world, And THEIR demand is what YOU , so eagerly abuse;; FREEDOM But it seems you are so uneducated, that not even this word you understand !!!!!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-16 12:41

      Rhetoric and ad hominen, as gewoonlik!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 17:17

      To Fidel, who believes Nelson Mandela is a phony, a lackey of the West, a modern-day Uncle Tom, the people of Syria trying to free themselves from decades of unelected minority rule, are terrorists. Stands to reason.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-16 19:28

      The usual crap from Patrick !!! Shame, he is the only one who does not need to put his name on his comment. If their is FILTH, it must be from Patrick !!!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-16 20:13

      Patrick, you continue to talk nonsense. Everyone knows Al-Quaida is present in Syria. The best estimate I have heard is it makes up 5% to 10% of those removing Assad and his brother from unelected power. You on the other hand, lump the Syrian people together with them. This is nothing short of delusional. Everyone knows the overwhelming majority of Syrians are freeing themselves from decades of unelected minority rule by the Assad family, who are part of the Alawite sect that make up 2 million of Syria's 20 million population. Alawites themselves are defecting, just like what we went through here in South Africa with many Afrikaners defecting from the Nationalist Party. The longer you hold onto your obvious delusion, the more you will make yourself out to be stubborn and a fool.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-17 00:46

      The Assad brothers, Putin, Lavrov and Al-Quaida don't want peace unless it's on their autocratic terms. Unfortunately the longer this goes on, the more the Syrian people will want revenge, such is their pain and suffering, more that I think we can imagine.

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-10-16 21:43

    International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says that the flow of arms to both sides must stop for their to be peace...his attempts to broker a ceasefire is an honorable one and one would wish it will be heeded,or at least backed up with some serious commitment and statement of intent from Syria's neighbors to support his efforts by reciprocating in whatever way they can! Fartanthonyfromromantica his sidekick friedbrainfraser see only in this article another forum to slag other peoples views on this subject and this whole debate spirals down into repetition of what people have said and simply a slagging match about opposing points of view!I think its time news24looked at banning these two who contribute nothing and frankly bring down the standard of comments that they elect with their insulting and demeaning attitudes!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-10-17 00:51

      Dunkie, unfortunately like you missed history classes at school when you bunked, you missed the first eleven months of this uprising. During that period, thousands of unarmed demonstrators were killed with SNIPER FIRE, and tens of thousands more were detained, tortured, taped and killed by Assad and his brother. With Putin's assistance. What would you do if God forbid Diana and your son were harmed in that way, demonstrating peacefully for basic human rights?

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