Cease fire or risk regional war, says envoy
The international mediator to Syria has said its civil war risks engulfing the Middle East, as he appealed for a truce in a bid to end 19 months of conflict.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations-Arab League envoy, has proposed that both president Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebel fighters seeking his overthrow cease fire during the Islamic feast of Eid al-Adha that starts next week.
Syrian authorities, who blame rebels for the failure of an April ceasefire plan, yesterday guardedly welcomed Mr Brahimi’s proposal but said any initiative must be respected by both sides.
“This crisis cannot remain within Syrian borders indefinitely. Either it will be addressed or it will increase … and be all-consuming,” Mr Brahimi told reporters in Beirut.
Syrian officials have questioned whether the rebels, who only agreed a joint leadership on Tuesday, could enforce any ceasefire deal. But Mr Brahimi said opposition figures had told him any ceasefire by Mr Assad’s forces would be reciprocated.
“We heard from everyone we met that, if the government stops using violence, ‘We will respond to this directly’,” he said.
“We hope this will be a very small step that would save the Syrian people.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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