Brahimi Begins Syria Mission With Cario Talks

Posted September 10th, 2012 at 5:55 am (UTC-5)
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The new international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Arab League officials before he is expected to head to Damascus on his first official trip to the region.

Brahimi will meet Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi Monday before separate talks with Mr. Morsi. A spokesman for the U.N.-Arab League envoy said the date of Brahimi's visit to Syria, which is torn by what has been described as a civil war, will be fixed once the final details are set.

Iran's Mehr news agency quoted a senior Iranian foreign ministry official as saying Brahimi would visit Iran – a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – after his fact-finding trip to Syria. Brahimi's spokesman said the U.N. envoy planned to visit Syria soon but there were no plans for travel to Iran.

The veteran Algerian diplomat succeeded Kofi Annan as envoy last month and has said he would talk to Iranian officials as he tries to push forward with his difficult quest to end Syria's 18-month-old conflict.

The moves come as the U.N. Human Rights Council begins a three-week session Monday in Geneva with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and other top diplomats aiming to increase pressure on Damascus to halt the bloodshed.

Mr. Ban will be followed by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who has repeatedly condemned what she called the “crimes against humanity” being committed in Syria

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 27 people killed Sunday when rebels attacked government buildings in a western district of Aleppo.

Opposition activists in the northern city said government warplanes bombed and destroyed a residential compound earlier in the day, killing and wounding several people and leaving others trapped under rubble.

It was not possible to verify government and opposition casualty figures independently.

Syrian security forces and rebels have been battling for control of Aleppo for months. The fighting has damaged water pipes in Syria's commercial capital and led to water shortages, which the two warring sides have blamed on each other.

Activists say the Syrian conflict has killed at least 27,000 people. The United Nations puts the death toll at 20,000.