UN-AL envoy calls for temporary cease-fire in Syria

2012-10-19 20:16:10 GMT2012-10-20 04:16:10(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

UN-Arab League (AL) joint special representative Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Damascus on Friday, continuing his bid to secure a cease-fire in Syria during the upcoming Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha holiday.

Brahimi has been shuttling in the region to delineate a full vision before putting forth any proposal to end the long-time violence in Syria.

Before his arrival in the Syrian capital, media reports have speculated on the topics and proposals Brahimi would raise with the Syrian leadership, but the veteran diplomat has remained tight- lipped about the essence of his endeavor.

During his visit to Tehran on Sunday, Brahimi appealed to Iranian leaders to help arrange a cease-fire in Syria during Eid al-Adha, which begins on Oct. 26.

The Syrian government said earlier that it is interested in exploring a cease-fire in the 19-month violence as proposed by Brahimi, but it insisted on commitment and cooperation of the other party in the conflict.

Meanwhile, head of the broad-based opposition group Syrian National Council (SNC), Abdelbaset Sieda, also welcomed the proposed truce.

"We agree with the Syrian cease-fire plan advocated by both Turkey and UN-Arab League envoy," Sieda told Xinhua in Turkey on Friday, adding that the cease-fire plan would be beneficial to Syrian civilians.

"As SNC, we accept the cease-fire plan. We also demand that the Assad regime should put down the arms and stop all kinds of attacks," Sieda said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al- Assad.

Based in Istanbul, the SNC has emerged as the umbrella group combining various factions of the exiled Syrian opposition, but the council has been marred by internal disputes and has so far failed to become a reliable and coherent front.

As an indication of that, the defected Colonel Riad al-Asaad, who now commands the "Free Syrian Army" militia, rejected Brahimi' s proposal for a cease-fire during Eid al-Adha.

"What was needed is a permanent cessation of killings and bombings, not a truce for two days," he said.

Brahimi is carrying out his second regional tour that included Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in a bid to cement the proposed cease-fire between the Syrian government and armed rebels in the 19-month conflict in the Middle East country.

He said a cease-fire would "help create an environment that would allow a political process to develop."

The cease-fire proposal has come in tandem with an appeal by the United Nations to halt the flow of weapons to both sides in the Syrian conflict.

The joint envoy stressed that all influential countries must work to stop the bloodshed in Syria by halting arms shipments to prevent the conflict from spreading.

"Those countries need to realize... that it is not possible that this crisis will stay inside Syrian border forever," Brahimi warned during his visit to Lebanon. "It has to be taken good care of or it will spill over and consume everything."

Shortly after Brahimi's warning, a car bomb ripped though the east of Lebanese capital Beirut on Friday, killing at least eight people, including a top security official, and injuring over 70 others.

The car was parked outside a residential building near Sassin square in the capital when the bomb exploded, sources said. No one has yet claimed responsibility.

Syria's Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi condemned the " cowered terrorist act" and said that "such blasts are condemned whenever happened and there is nothing to justify them."

Similar blasts have occurred across Syria over the past 19 months, killing and maiming many civilians and army personnel. An al-Qaida-linked group, al-Nusra Front, has claimed responsibility for the bulk of the explosions.

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, was appointed by the United Nations and the Arab League to replace Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who stepped down in August after trying in vain to bring peace to Syria, in a continuous international effort to seek a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

The veteran Algerian diplomat is set to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem Saturday morning, but it is not clear when he will meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his four-day stay in Syria.

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