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UN Envoy On Syria Meets With Assad

UN Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi
The international envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has been meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as his diplomatic mission continues.

Brahimi is calling for a truce between rebels and Assad forces for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha -- which begins October 26 -- to foster trust between the two sides.

Many countries including Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Germany have thrown their support behind the idea, but neither the Syrian government nor the rebels have committed themselves to any deal,

Nonetheless, on October 21, Brahimi intimated that the proposal had been welcomed by both sides.

"We called some leaders of the peaceful and armed opposition inside and outside the country," he said. "We have received a positive response. All the opposition members we met outside the country as well as the officials in the neighboring countries said that [a cease-fire during the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday] is a good idea. They all support and accept it."

Brahimi added that the call for the cease-fire was his "personal initiative, not a blueprint for peace."

Brahimi insisted that if a cease-fire could hold during the Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts on October 26, it would provide a foundation for a lasting truce.

"If we achieve this cease-fire during the al-Adha holiday and maintain it, we can try and build on it," he said. "If it does not happen, then we will keep trying and we hope we can open a way of relief for Syrian people."

Before his meeting with Assad, Brahimi met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem a day earlier on October 20, but did not speak to reporters afterward.

Elsewhere, Syrian TV reported an explosion in the Old City quarter of Damascus on October 21.

According to reports, at least seven people were killed and "many others" were wounded when the bomb exploded near a police station in the central Bab Touma district, inhabited mainly by the Christian minority.

There were also reports of clashes around the country on October 20, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting more than 40 civilians and rebel fighters killed as well as the deaths of some 20 government soldiers.

More than 30,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which erupted more than 18 months ago.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP