Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Brahimi wades back into Syria fray

12 October 2012, 10:29

Damascus - UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi waded back into the Syrian fray on Thursday, even as rebels and regime troops fought pitched battles for control of key northern towns leaving dozens dead.

Brahimi's arrival in Saudi Arabia for talks with officials in the kingdom comes amid rising tension between Syria and Turkey, made worse after a Syrian passenger jet was forced to land in Ankara where some of its cargo was seized.

The envoy, who has previously held out little prospect for a negotiated end to a conflict both sides seem determined to decide on the battlefield, would have "wide-ranging talks on the prolonged crisis in Syria", said his spokesperson.

Brahimi had first gone to the Middle East in mid-September, visiting Damascus, where he met Syrian President Bashar Assad - but earned no promises of concessions from him.

In an interview with AFP on Tuesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Brahimi would soon return to Damascus to try again to meet with Assad.

Ban suggested Brahimi could go to the Syrian capital next week if his meetings in the region this week were productive.

69 killed

Brahimi's second regional tour comes as Syrian forces battle rebels across the country, with fighting focused in an eastern belt of Damascus, in the northern city of Aleppo, in the central city of Homs and in Daraa province in the south.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 69 people were killed in clashes on Wednesday in the northern province of Idlib, where rebels are trying to secure a swathe of territory abutting the Turkish border that will serve as a "buffer zone".

Regime forces from early Thursday resumed shelling of Maaret al-Numan, seized two days earlier by rebels and which has since been the theatre of heavy fighting, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Syria's army has sent reinforcements to help retake Maaret al-Numan and other nearby towns so that road links can be restored with Aleppo, which since mid-July has been one of the main focuses of the civil war.

But insurgents say they have been trying to halt the advance using rocket launchers and improvised explosive devices.

The rebels on Wednesday launched an attack on army positions in Aleppo's landmark Umayyad Mosque in the heart of the Old City adding to the urgency for the army to restore its supply lines.

Intensified operations

In the central province of Homs, the town of Qusayr and rebel districts in the city of Homs were shelled and bombed by warplanes on Thursday, the Observatory said.

The army has intensified operations against Homs and Qusayr, which have been besieged by troops for months, vowing to overrun them by the end of the week to free up forces for northern battle zones.

Nationwide at least 198 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, the Observatory said, adding to more than 32 000 who have died since the start of the uprising in March 2011.

Assad's regime has insisted the insurgents must stop the violence first as it turned down a call issued by the UN secretary general.

"We told Ban Ki-moon to send emissaries to the countries which have influence on the armed groups, so that they put an end to the violence," foreign ministry spokesperson Jihad Maqdisi said on Wednesday.

Russia, meanwhile, stepped into the row over a Syrian plane intercepted after it took off from Moscow carrying 35 passengers, including 17 Russians.

'Objectionable cargo'

Ankara scrambled two jets on Wednesday to force the Airbus A-320 jet to land in Ankara on suspicion it was carrying weapons and ammunition.

"We are concerned that this emergency situation put at risk the lives and safety of passengers, who included 17 Russian citizens," a Russian foreign ministry statement said.

"The Russian side continues to insist on an explanation of the reasons for such actions by the Turkish authorities."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "objectionable cargo" was seized from the passenger jet.

Anatolia news agency quoted officials as saying they suspected the aircraft was carrying arms.

"There is illegal cargo on the plane that should have been reported" in line with civil aviation regulations, Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Anatolia.

"There are elements on board that can be considered objectionable," he said, adding that Turkey would hold on to the cargo for further investigation but declining to elaborate on the contents.

Tensions have been running high between Ankara and Damascus since the eruption of the Syrian conflict and were inflamed after a series of shell strikes from Syria on Turkish soil, including one attack that killed five civilians last week.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Man who attacked US Embassy a 24 ...

A man who attacked the US Embassy in Nairobi was a 24 year old from Wajir County. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
US Embassy to remain closed Frida...

The US Embassy in Nairobi will remain closed Friday following a terror attack on it Thursday. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave ODM if you are unhappy, Rai...

Leave ODM if you are not happy, Raila Odinga tells Senator. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Former Assistant Minister joins J...

A former Assistant Minister has quit PNU and joined the Jubilee Party. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
DP Ruto intervenes as Kerio Valle...

DP William Ruto will visit Kerio Valley to try solve never-ending clashes between local residents. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
ODM MP chased down by angry Kibra...

Kibra MP Ken Okoth had a hard time in his constituency after angry youth pelted him with stones. Read more...