syria fighting rages as envoy plans new peace bid
Last Updated : GMT 02:11:59
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Syria fighting rages as envoy plans new peace bid

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Syria fighting rages as envoy plans new peace bid

Damascus - AFP

Fighting and air raids shook Syria on Sunday as the international community looked to pick up the pieces of a failed effort to halt the violence for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Fresh clashes saw rebels storm regime positions in the suburbs of Damascus as air strikes pummelled opposition-held areas on the eastern outskirts of the capital, activists and a watchdog said. The four-day ceasefire proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi collapsed amid clashes, shelling and car bomb attacks only hours after it had been due to take effect with the start of Eid on Friday morning. With hopes shattered of even a temporary halt to the 19 months of violence in Syria, diplomats said Brahimi is looking ahead to new efforts to tackle the crisis. He is to go to the UN Security Council in November with new proposals aimed at pushing for political talks between President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition, UN diplomats told AFP, and will head this week for Russia and China to discuss the crisis.Brahimi will \"come back with some ideas for Security Council activity early next month,\" said one senior UN diplomat. \"The political process will not start until Assad and the opposition have battered each other so much that there is no choice. They are not there yet, but Brahimi has some ideas,\" added another envoy at the Security Council. On the ground Sunday, rebel forces took control of three military posts in the outer Damascus suburb of Douma amid fierce fighting and killed four soldiers at another checkpoint in the region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Regime warplanes hit targets in three air strikes in the nearby towns of Irbin, Zamalka and Harasta, where the military has been trying for weeks to dislodge rebel forces, the group said. Clashes, shelling and car bomb attacks killed 114 people on Saturday, the Observatory said, including 47 civilians, 36 soldiers and 31 rebels. The Britain-based Observatory relies on a countrywide network of activists, lawyers and medics in civilian and military hospitals. It says its tolls take into account civilians, military, and rebel casualties. Fighting also raged in the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, where rebels were trying to take a strategic central military barracks and a woman was killed in shelling, it said.Rebel forces fighting in the city are mainly from Islamist-linked units such as the \"Battalion of Mohammed\'s Soldiers\" and the Al-Nusra Front, who operate independently of the main rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), the watchdog said. The Al-Nusra Front and other Islamist groups had rejected the ceasefire from the beginning. Assad\'s regime has blamed the rebels for the failure of the ceasefire, saying government forces only responded to opposition ceasefire violations. The regime has accused rebels of acting on behalf of foreign powers, notably Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and on Sunday state media blamed them for the ceasefire\'s collapse. \"These terrorist groups are not the masters of their own decisions and generally follow foreign parties that have no interest in stopping the bloodshed in Syria,\" government newspaper Al-Thawra wrote in an editorial. Brahimi had hoped the Eid truce might lead to a more permanent ceasefire during which he could push for a political solution and bring aid to stricken areas of the country. Analysts and diplomats said the Algerian diplomat had been realistic about the ceasefire\'s chances and that its failure would not stop him from making a new bid to halt the conflict. \"Brahimi never pretended the ceasefire had a high chance of success,\" said Richard Gowan, of the Centre on International Cooperation at New York University. \"Diplomats at the UN won\'t blame him for this failure. Syrian citizens may be less forgiving, but they have surely given up any hope in the UN already. Brahimi can and should soldier on after Eid.\" Rights groups say more than 35,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began as an anti-regime uprising but is now a civil war pitting mainly Sunni rebels against Assad\'s regime dominated by his minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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