UN envoy presses for Syria cease-fire in Damascus

Associated Press
UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, speaks during a press conference after meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, at the government palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Brahimi is in Beirut to meet with Lebanese officials. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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UN Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, speaks during a press conference after meeting Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, at the government palace, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Brahimi is in Beirut to meet with Lebanese officials. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — The international envoy to the Syria conflict pressed his call for a cease-fire with Syrian officials during a visit to Damascus on Saturday while violence continued throughout the country unabated.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the U.N. and the Arab League, has appealed for a truce between rebels and President Bashar Assad's forces for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins Oct. 26. Brahimi arrived in Damascus Friday after a tour of Middle East capitals to drum up support for the cease-fire, which he hopes will pave the way for a longer-term truce.

A range of countries including Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Germany have thrown their support behind the idea, but neither the Syrian government nor the rebels have signed on.

Brahimi met Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Saturday and was expected to hold talks Assad on Sunday.

A Foreign Ministry statement released after Saturday's meeting did not mention the proposed truce, but said the two men discussed "objective and rational circumstances to stop the violence from any side in order to prepare for a comprehensive dialogue among the Syrians."

Brahimi did not speak to reporters.

Syrian government forces and rebels have both agreed to and then promptly violated internationally brokered cease-fires in the past, and there is little indication that either is willing to stop fighting now.

Clashes flared around the country on Saturday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more than 40 civilians and rebel fighters killed as well as more than 20 government soldiers.

Anti-regime activist say more 33,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising started in March 2011.

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