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UN Envoy Calls On Damascus To Take First Step On Cease-Fire


UN-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said a truce could build trust between the Assad regime and rebels.
The UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has arrived in Damascus in a bid to secure a cease-fire in Syria's 19-month conflict.

The envoy is expected to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Brahimi has called for a cease-fire during the four-day Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha that begins on October 26.

Earlier, Brahimi said such a truce could lead to building trust between the two sides.

Damascus cautiously welcomed the idea, but said any such truce must be respected by both sides.

Brahimi has said rebels would back a truce if Assad's forces stopped firing.

Earlier on October 19, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joined the appeal for a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed in Syria during the holiday.

Davutoglu urged both Syrian forces and rebels to end hostilities "at least" through Eid al-Adha.

Davutoglu said the Syrian government should take the first steps by halting attacks "immediately and without preconditions."

Iran and Iraq have also called for a truce, as did Germany, a current member of the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, the official SANA news agency said government troops were "cleaning villages" in the countryside around Maarat, killing and wounding many rebels.

Rebels seized Maarat last week, and government troops have been bombarding the area to retake it.

SANA also reported rebels had blown up two oil and gas pipelines in the northeast near the Iraqi border.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters