First Published: 2012-12-31

 

Syria backs 'any initiative' for talks without foreign meddling

 

Syrian PM says said his country is moving toward historic moment when it will declare victory over its enemies.

 

Middle East Online

'The government is working to support the national reconciliation project'

DAMASCUS - Syria's government on Monday welcomed any initiative for talks to end bloodshed in the country, after UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he had a peace plan acceptable to world powers.

The Damascus regime's stand, expressed by Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi, came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity led by Brahimi to find ways to end the 21-month conflict.

But the violence still raged, with activists reporting the gruesome discovery of dozens of tortured, headless corpses in the northern Damascus district of Barzeh and adding that nearly 90 percent of the 45,000 people killed so far died in 2012.

"The government is working to support the national reconciliation project and will respond to any regional or international initiative that would solve the current crisis through dialogue and peaceful means and prevent foreign intervention in Syria's internal affairs," Halaqi told parliament.

He said the revolt against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad must be resolved only by the Syrian people, "without external pressures or decrees."

Halaqi said the country was "moving toward a historic moment when it will declare victory over its enemies, with the goal of positioning Syria to build a new world order that promotes national sovereignty and the concept of international law."

His remarks came after Brahimi said the conflict was worsening "by the day."

Speaking after talks in Russia, the veteran Algerian troubleshooter said on Sunday he had crafted a ceasefire plan "that could be adopted by the international community."

"I have discussed this plan with Russia and Syria... I think this proposal could be adopted by the international community," Brahimi said, without going into detail.

"There is a proposal for a political solution based on the Geneva declaration foreseeing a ceasefire, forming a government with complete prerogatives and a plan for parliamentary and presidential elections," he said, referring to a peace initiative world powers agreed to in June.

That plan was rejected by Syria's opposition, which insists Assad must go before any national dialogue can take place.

Russia and China have so far vetoed three UN Security Council draft resolutions seeking to force Assad's hand with the threat of sanctions.

The violence has escalated, with activists reporting the discovery of 30 tortured bodies in Damascus.

"Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on medics and activists on the ground in compiling its tolls.

The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists, gave a higher estimate of 50 bodies, saying "their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify" them.

These reports could not be verified independently because of restrictions on international media.

The Observatory said three civilians were killed on Monday in air attacks on the town of Douma northeast of Damascus, while fierce clashes erupted in Daraya southwest of the city.

In Idlib province, fighters from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front -- blacklisted by Washington as a terror group -- and other rebels who are besieging the Wadi Deif base also clashed with troops at a nearby military post, the Observatory said.

It said at least 160 people were killed on Sunday, including 78 civilians, and that nearly 90 percent of the 45,000 people killed so far died in 2012.

It put the 2012 death toll at 39,362 people, including 28,133 civilians.

On Sunday, regime forces unleashed a fierce offensive in the central city of Homs after overrunning Deir Baalbeh, a key neighbourhood, a day earlier in fighting which left dozens dead.

A video released by the Syrian Revolution General Commission showed the bodies of nine male victims from Deir Baalbeh lying on the ground, their faces bloody and mutilated.

 

Iraq troops prepare for final assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iran moderate conservative retains parliament speakership

Without clear roadmap, Libya unity government fails to bring change

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for Hajj impasse

In Iraq town, fans of Real Madrid gather in 'challenge to ISIS'

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sowing ‘sedition’ in Iraq

Israel police send Netanyahu spending file to prosecutors

Bahrain court upholds life terms for five 'spies'

Investigators need 12 days to recover EgyptAir black boxes

Iraq Kurdish forces launch offensive east of Mosul

Shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim up to 700 lives in one week

ISIS offensive triggers mass displacement in northern Syria

Iran delegation leaves Saudi Arabia without Hajj deal

Hundreds of civilians flee Fallujah area in Iraq

Khamenei urges Iran lawmakers to resist Western 'schemes'

ISIS-rebel clashes grip northeast Syria town

New US law could sanction Hezbollah officials

Thousands of protesters gather in central Bagdad

99 lashes for partying Iranian students

100,000 Syrians trapped after shock IS advance in Aleppo

Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

Turkey party seeks constitutional change to boost president's powers

Turkey accuses US of 'hypocrisy' on Kurdish militia in Syria

Israel environment minister resigns from 'extremist government'

US-led coalition pounds IS near Raqa

Tunisia mulls allowing women to serve in army

US-backed fighters battle IS near Syria stronghold

Tunisia tourism sees 'slight recovery'

UN envoy calls for economic rescue plan for Yemen

Bahrain jails 19 for attacks on police

Up to 30 dead in shipwreck off Libya

UN says Syrians will 'starve' unless aid improves

Christian homes set ablaze in Egyptian village 'love story'

Kuwait's main opposition group ends polls boycott

Twin offensives on IS edge forward in Syria, Iraq

Private firms to help in hunt for Egyptair black boxes

New Israeli defence minister's tough talk to be put to the test

Syria most dangerous place for health workers

Concern for civilians trapped in Iraq's Fallujah

Brent rises past $50 a barrel

Iraq PM urges protesters to stay home

Juncker warns Ankara against migrant deal threats

Israeli air force carries out strikes on Hamas sites in Gaza

Annual Jewish pilgrimage starts in Tunisia

Sudan accuses UN official of 'false' reports on displaced