Syria truce collapses, prompting new peace efforts

Fighting and air raids shook Syria yesterday as the international community looked to pick up the pieces of a failed effort to halt the violence for the Eid Al Adha holiday.

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.

At least five people were killed and dozens wounded in a car bomb attack in southern Damascus, Syrian state television 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 bloodshed in Syria, diplomats said Mr 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, said UN diplomats, and will head this week for Russia and China to discuss the crisis.

Mr 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.

Mr 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.”

In Iraq yesterday, a Syria-bound cargo plane from Iran was stopped and searched for weapons for the second time in a month but allowed to continue as no banned items were found, an official said.

The United States has been pressuring Baghdad to ensure all Iranian aircraft flying through its airspace are ordered to land and checked for weapons, but Iraq has said it will only stop planes when it has doubts about the cargo being transported. “We have orders that any cargo plane we have doubts about, we must stop it and inspect it,” Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq’s civil aviation authority Bandar said. Inspectors did not find any weapons, and instead found medical supplies and humanitarian goods. Iraq stopped an Iranian cargo plane for the same reason on October 2, but allowed it to continue to Syria after inspections concluded it was not carrying prohibited items.

On the ground in Syria yesterday, 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.

At least 23 people were killed yesterday, according to a preliminary count compiled by the Observatory, following 114 deaths on Saturday, including 47 civilians, 36 soldiers and 31 rebels.

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.

Source: AFP


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