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Peace Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (AFP)
Peace Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (AFP)

Syria: More Violence as Brahimi headed to Arab League

(DP-News - agencies)
SYRIA- As Lakhdar Brahimi headed to Cairo for talks with Arab leaders on his first visit to the region as peace envoy; Syrian activists reported that government troops continue artillery assault on the southern suburb of Damascus, Aleppo and other areas in the country.

Brahimi, who last week described the Syrian bloodshed as "staggering" and the destruction "catastrophic", was on his way to the Middle East for the first time since taking up his role as the UN-Arab League envoy.

Activists told international press that Syrian Government stormed Saturday an area of Damascus populated by Palestinian refugees, after a four-day, opposition activists said. Government forces meanwhile bombarded rebel positions in Aleppo, destroying a crucial water pipeline in Syria's second city after a day of fierce clashes with rebels, they added.

Syrian government forces bombarded a central neighborhood of Aleppo after a day of fierce clashes with rebels who tried to take the regime-controlled district, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Several houses were destroyed in the shelling of the northern city's Midan district, which is mostly under regime control, said the Britain-based watchdog.

Fierce battles broke out on the edge of Midan on Saturday, after rebels tried to take over the district from their stronghold in Bustan al-Basha.

A main water pipe in Bustan al-Basha was destroyed, either by air strikes or the fighting, and water shortages were reported by residents in Aleppo.

Sunday's violence followed a bloody day in which 135 people -- 63 civilians, 33 rebels and 39 soldiers -- were killed nationwide, the Britain-based Observatory reported.

As many as 38 people were killed by shelling attacks on the districts of Shaar, Halwani and Sad al-Luz on Saturday, the watchdog said. The names of 17 have been documented thus far.

Another 17 bodies were discovered in a trench in Aleppo city, while at least 11 people were killed in shelling in Tadamun and Yarmuk Palestinian camp in Damascus, according to the Observatory.

For its part, Syria state media reported “Armed forces release 30 kidnapped, kill terrorists in Aleppo and Homs”

On Sunday, "Four people were killed and others wounded in an explosion by a bomb which was planted by a terrorist group in a bus on the route from Homs to Messyaf," said state TV.

Syria TV reported “A bomb attack on a bus carrying civilians and troops in the central Syrian province of Homs killed at least four people and wounded dozens more on Sunday.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the attack. Two explosive devices were detonated as the bus travelled along the Homs-Messyaf highway linking the provinces of Homs and Hama, according to the Britain-based group.

"We know for sure that four people were killed but we don't know if they were civilians or military," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP on the phone.

"It was a large bus and there are dozens of casualties," Abdel Rahman said, adding that "the bombs were planted on the road.

On Saturday, Syria's foreign ministry spokesman has criticized France for pledging to aid Syrian rebels, saying that will undermine the mission of U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

Jihad Makdessi says France's declared intention to support the rebel Free Syrian Army demonstrates its "support for the militarization" of the conflict.

Makdessi said Syria is "fully committed" to cooperating with Brahimi. The regime has in the past made similar pledges but failed to live up to those commitments.

Makdessi added that those who "hinder, fund, harbor and arm rebels" should instead help Brahimi's mission to succeed.

French officials acknowledge providing communications and other non-lethal equipment to Syrian rebels but say they won't provide weapons without international agreement.

The United States has also said it is providing non-lethal assistance to the opposition in Syria, whose regime which has been a Moscow ally since the Cold War.

Brahimi was travelling to the Egyptian capital on Sunday for talks with Arab League leaders ahead of a trip he hopes to make to Damascus, according to his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi.

"We are working on the final details of a plan to visit Damascus and it will happen quite soon if all the details fall into place," Fawzi said.

According to UN diplomats, Brahimi has been seeking guarantees that he will get a proper meeting with Assad before he goes to Damascus.

Brahimi has said it is up to the Syrians to decide their future, echoing the position of Annan.

The Algerian former foreign minister has warned that the situation across Syria is "deteriorating steadily."

The veteran troubleshooter took up his post on September 1 over from Kofi Annan, the former UN chief who quit the post in early August complaining of "continuous finger-pointing and name-calling" at the UN Security Council.

Brahimi said before taking up his post he was not confident of being able to restore peace, warning that it was a matter of ending rather than avoiding a civil war in Syria, whose conflict is 18 months old.
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