Syria insists on national dialogue at Brahimi talks
[Pak Daily Times] Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Saturday pressed in Damascus
...Home to a staggering array of terrorist organizations...
for a truce to break the cycle of bloodshed in Syria, while the regime said a national dialogue free of foreign interference held the key.
Brahimi met Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and opposition leaders tolerated by President Bashar al Assad's regime in a bid to win support for his plan to secure a truce for a key Mohammedan holiday next week.
But the talks were clouded by tensions in neighbouring Leb, where opposition leaders and the prime minister linked a deadly bombing that killed a top security official to the Syrian regime.
On the ground at least 65 people were killed in violence on Saturday across Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, as fighting raged on northern battlefields and around Damascus.
The foreign ministry said Muallem discussed with Brahimi "a halt to the violence ... in order to prepare for a global Syrian dialogue, free of any foreign intervention".
"Such a dialogue is the only way to emerge from the crisis," it said.
Muallem also complained to Brahimi about regional countries who host, arm and train rebels, saying their action was undermining the UN-Arab League
...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing...
Syria has repeatedly blamed its neighbour Turkey as well as energy-rich Soddy Arabia
...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in their national face...
and Qatar of supporting the armed insurgency.
Brahimi is hoping to secure a ceasefire during the four-day Eidul Azha Mohammedan holiday starting October 26 that he believes could pave the way for more permanent peace initiatives.
Hassan Abdel Azim of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, an opposition group tolerated by the regime, voiced support for the proposed truce.
The ceasefire could pave the way for a political process if it was broadened to include the release of prisoners held by the regime and the supply of medical aid to beleaguered citizens, he said.
"The violence in Syria has reached a dangerous level which threatens the illusory sovereignty and independence of the country," Abdel Azim added after meeting Brahimi.
Taking a far tougher line, the exiled opposition says the regime must take the first step and halt its daily bombardments.
Brahimi is expected to hold talks with Assad later on his Damascus mission.
The envoy toured several countries with influence in the Syrian conflict over the past week, including Leb and Iran, and warned that the violence could spread and set the whole region ablaze.
These fears were compounded when a massive car boom went
kaboom! Friday in Beirut, killing at least eight people, including a senior intelligence chief linked to the anti-Damascus camp in Leb, General Wissam al Hassan.
Leb, which was under Syrian military and political control for 30 years until 2005, has been divided over the conflict in Syria and the scene of violence between supporters and opponents of the Damascus regime.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati linked the murder to last month's discovery of kabooms allegedly being planned by Michel Samaha, a pro-Damascus former minister. "I cannot separate the plot uncovered last month and what happened yesterday ... After the discovery of explosives, logic dictates that the two cases are related," Mikati said.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi, for his part, has condemned what he called a "terrorist, cowardly" attack. Such incidents were "unjustifiable wherever they occur," he said.
Meanwhile regime forces and rebels clashed on Saturday around a besieged army base near the strategic northern town of Maaret al-Numan, which the beturbanned goons seized on October 9, an AFP correspondent said.
Machinegun fire and kabooms rang out from Wadi Deif base on the eastern outskirts of the town, and warplanes struck the town and its outskirts.
The Syrian Observatory said fierce festivities broke out on the Aleppo
...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins...
-Damascus highway south of Maaret al Numan after rebels attacked a military convoy.
Posted by: Fred