Turkish FM Calls for Syrian Cease-fire

Posted October 19th, 2012 at 5:10 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's foreign minister has appealed to Syrian forces and rebel groups to observe a cease-fire during a Muslim holiday next week.

Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters Friday that both sides should at least suspend hostilities for the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday that begins October 26.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is due to visit Damascus, where he is expected to meet Saturday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem. Brahimi has also called for a cease-fire next week.

On Thursday Syrian activists and medical officials said a series of government air strikes on rebel areas in the country's north has killed at least 43 people, including many children.

The activists said the strikes happened late Wednesday and early Thursday and hit five areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, including the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan which is strategically located along the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The road connects Syria's two largest cities.

Insurgents who have been attempting to cut the Syrian Army's supply lines to Aleppo took control of Maaret al-Numan earlier this month.

Graphic video of the air strikes posted online show leveled buildings and survivors pulling bodies from the debris. Activist claims and video footage could not be independently verified.

The U.N.-Arab League envoy told reporters Thursday after meeting Jordan's foreign minister that a respite in hostilities could build confidence and help bring about a longer truce in the 19-month-old conflict.

A previous cease-fire in April collapsed after just a few days, with each side blaming the other. Then-mediator Kofi Annan resigned from his post in frustration.