Syria backs ‘any initiative’ for talks to end conflictAgence France-Presse . Damascus
Syria’s government on Monday welcomed any initiative for talks to end bloodshed in the country, after UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he had a peace plan acceptable to all sides.
The Damascus regime’s latest stand, expressed by prime minister Wael al-Halaqi, came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity led by Brahimi to find ways to end the 21-month conflict.
‘The government is working to support the national reconciliation project and will respond to any regional or international initiative that would solve the current crisis through dialogue and peaceful means and prevent foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs,’ Halaqi told parliament.
Halaqi emphasised the revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has cost an estimated 45,000 lives, must be resolved only by the Syrian people, ‘without external pressures or decrees’.
The country, he said, was ‘moving toward a historic moment when it will declare victory over its enemies, with the goal of positioning Syria to build a new world order that promotes national sovereignty and the concept of international law’.
Halaqi’s remarks came after Brahimi said the Syrian conflict was worsening ‘by the day’.
Speaking after talks in Russia, the veteran Algerian troubleshooter said Sunday he had crafted a ceasefire plan ‘that could be adopted by the international community’.
‘I have discussed this plan with Russia and Syria... I think this proposal could be adopted by the international community,’ Brahimi said, without revealing any details.
‘There is a proposal for a political solution based on the Geneva declaration foreseeing a ceasefire, forming a government with complete prerogatives and a plan for parliamentary and presidential elections,’ he said, referring to a peace initiative world powers agreed to in June.
That plan was rejected by Syria’s opposition, which insists Assad must depart before any national dialogue can take place.
Russia and China have so far vetoed three UN Security Council draft resolutions seeking to force Assad’s hand with the threat of sanctions.
The violence in Syria, meanwhile, escalated with activists reporting finding of 30 tortured bodies in the northern Damascus suburb of Barzeh.
‘Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,’ said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on medics and activists on the ground in compiling its tolls.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists, gave a higher estimate of 50 bodies, saying ‘their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify’ them.
These reports could not be verified independently because of restrictions on international media.
The Observatory said at least 160 people were killed across Syria on Sunday, including 78 civilians.
On Sunday, regime forces had unleashed a fierce offensive in the central city of Homs after overrunning a key neighbourhood a day earlier.
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