October 22, 2012
October 22, 2012
There is no indication that the mission of peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Syria would have any achievement on ground, the head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Abdul Basset Seyda, said.
“The current indications don’t show any good signs,” Seyda told Al Arabiya in an interview on Sunday.
Seyda said that the Syrian regime’s statements are different from its actions. Seyda was commenting on the possibility of imposing a truce in Syria during the Eid al-Adha holiday.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Brahimi appealed to both sides to call a truce to the conflict during a Muslim holiday this week after talks with President Bashar al-Assad, as a deadly blast rocked Damascus.
The Arab League’s deputy secretary general told AFP on Monday that hopes of a ceasefire being implemented in war-torn Syria during the upcoming Muslim Eid holidays are “slim.”
“Unfortunately, hope for implementing the truce during Eid al-Adha are slim so far,” Ahmed Ben Helli told AFP on the sidelines of the World Energy Forum in Dubai Monday.
Speaking after his meeting with Assad on Sunday, Brahimi gave few details of the talks but reiterated his call for a pause in the violence, which killed tens of thousands of people since the uprising against Assad erupted in March last year.
“Everyone can start this (ceasefire) when they want, today or tomorrow for example, for the period of the Eid and beyond,” he told reporters at a Damascus hotel, according to Reuters.
Brahimi said he had contacted opposition figures inside and outside Syria, including rebel fighters, as well as officials in neighboring countries, some of which support the insurgency.
“They answered that they would respond positively to a (ceasefire) initiative from the government,” he said. “We hope this Eid in Syria will be calm, even if it is not a happy Eid.”
He added: “If we do find that this calm continued through the Eid, we will try to build on it. If that does not happen, we will try nevertheless and work to open the path to hope for the Syrian people.”
Turkey has called for all sides to observe Brahimi’s truce. Iran, one of Assad’s major backers, has also supported the call but said the main problem in Syria was foreign interference, such as arming the rebels.
The United States, which has been a vocal critic of Assad but has little apparent influence on the ground, threw its weight behind the ceasefire call on Friday.
A previous ceasefire in April collapsed after just a few days, with each side blaming the other. Mediator Kofi Annan resigned his post in frustration a few months later.
Brahimi’s plea for a truce came as thousands of people demonstrated against the Syrian regime at the Beirut funeral of a top Lebanese police intelligence chief, killed in a car bomb which Lebanon’s opposition has blamed on its neighbor.
In Syria’s capital, a bomb exploded outside a police station in a Christian quarter of the Old City, killing 13 people, the state news agency SANA reported, blaming rebels.
It was the first such attack against a Christian quarter since the uprising against Assad’s regime erupted 19 months ago.
“The blast was so strong that my house, a mile away, shook,” one resident told AFP.
Many Syrian Christians — who make up just five percent of the mostly Sunni Muslim population — have sided with the regime, fearing that the uprising could trigger an Islamist backlash against their community.
Although Brahimi stressed that the ceasefire call was his personal initiative, both U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the head of the Arab League Nabil al-Arabi have also backed the initiative.
Assad, during his 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,” SANA reported.
Brahimi also met Sunday with the ambassadors of Russia and China — countries that have blocked resolutions for tough actions against Syria at the U.N. Security Council — an AFP reporter said.
Brahimi has visited several countries with influence in the Syrian conflict over the past week, including Lebanon and Iran, warning that the violence could spread and set the entire region ablaze.
Such fears were compounded when a massive car bomb exploded on Friday in Beirut, killing three people including a senior police intelligence chief linked to the anti-Damascus camp in Lebanon, General Wissam al-Hassan.
Lebanon, which was under Syrian military and political domination for 30 years until 2005, has been divided over the conflict in Syria and has experienced violence between supporters and opponents of the Assad regime.
Although Syria joined international condemnation of the killings, Damascus has emerged as the prime suspect in Hassan’s assassination.
On the ground in Syria, at least 125 people were killed in new violence, including 57 civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, adding to its estimate of more than 34,000 dead since March 2011.
Clashes were reported in the Damascus province town of Harasta and in the northern city of Aleppo, a key battleground for three months.
A car bomb exploded in Aleppo’s Sarian district, wounding several people, an AFP correspondent said. A security source said the blast was caused by “a suicide car bomber.”
Renewed fighting was also reported at the southern entrance to Maaret al-Numan, a strategic town on the Aleppo-Damascus highway that fell to the rebels on Oct. 9, severing a key army supply route.