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UN Security Council Urges Syria Truce

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin suggested the Syrian government could accept the truce proposal.
The United Nations Security Council has called on the Syrian government and rebel groups to accept a four-day truce proposal.

UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has proposed that both sides lay down their arms during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins on October 26.

The Security Council has in the past been sharply divided over Syria, but in a statement adopted unanimously on October 24, the 15-nation council called on all sides to work toward a “sustainable cessation of all violence.”

The Syrian government has not yet officially announced whether it accepts the cease-fire plan, and at least one rebel group has already rejected it.

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow has received “indications” that the Syrian regime will announce its agreement on the plan. An announcement from Damascus was expected on October 25.

In another development, the United States said it has not provided Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Syrian rebels. A top Russian military officer earlier said rebel fighters had obtained U.S.-made Stingers.

The shoulder-held Stingers, which can be fired by a single fighter, are capable of bringing down helicopters and warplanes.

The Security Council statement was issued after the council heard in closed session from Brahimi via video link from Cairo.

Brahimi said the Syrian government was ready to accept the cease-fire proposal, and “most” rebel groups were also ready to observe it.

The Security Council statement called on all sides, in particular the Syrian government -- which it described as “the stronger party” in the conflict -- to agree to the cease-fire initiative.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow, an ally of the Syrian regime, had received “indications” of a positive response from Damascus. But he noted the government had not yet officially responded.

In Washington, U.S. officials said the United States had not provided Stinger missiles to rebel forces.

Russian chief of staff General Nikolai Makarov earlier said Moscow had “information that the rebels fighting the Syrian army have shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles of several states, including Stingers made in the United States.”

He added it was not clear who had delivered the missiles to the rebels.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he wasn’t aware of any Stinger transfers to the Syrian rebels.

State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said the United States had not provided any weaponry at all to Syrian rebels. She called on Russia to show evidence that the rebels had obtained Stingers.

with reporting from Reuters, AP and AFP