UN envoy Brahimi urges Moscow to find political solution to Syria
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as they arrive for talks in Moscow, on Saturday. (AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)
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The international mediator who has struggled to end Syria’s conflict said on Saturday that the alternative to a political process in the Middle Eastern country is “hell.”
“If the only alternative is hell or a political process, then all of us have to work continuously toward the political process,” U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russian minister Lavrov said that there is still a chance of finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
“The confrontation is escalating. But we agree the chance for a political solution remains,” he said, adding that he was “surprised” by the negative reaction of the opposition Syria National Coalition to an offer of talks by Moscow.
Lavrov said that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Brahimi he insists on staying in power, adding that it is “not possible to dissuade him.”
During the conference, both Lavrov and Brahimi insisted that the Syrian crisis is heading towards sectarianism.
Talks in Moscow came as Brahimi aims to find a way out of the Syria conflict after Russia upped the pressure on al-Assad to open talks with the rebels.
His trip came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in Moscow on the Syria conflict that this week also saw a rare visit by the Syrian deputy foreign minister as well as Egypt’s top diplomat.
Foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said earlier that the talks with Brahimi were aimed “at ending the violence and launching a national dialogue in the country between the authorities and the opposition.”
Syrian journalists defect from state media
In Paris, three journalists announced defection from the regime’s media machine. In a press conference attended by Al Arabiya, Kamal Jamal Beck (C), former director of programming at the official SANA radio and the SANA online news website, and Lama Al-Khadra Baddour Abdel Karim said the state media have turned into military barricade for Shabbiha forces.
The three Syrian journalists said they have now joined ranks with the revolution and stated they left Syria fearing for their lives after planning to quit their jobs in protest at ongoing bloodshed and violence perpetrated by the regime of Syrian president Bachar al-Assad.
They said the Syrian state TV building houses all forms of intelligence services and snipers on the roof. They said they were laying the foundation for a new Syrian television to replace the regime’s channel after the fall of Assad.
Conditions on the ground
Syrian regime air raids on the town of Al-Safira, south of second city Aleppo, killed 15 civilians, eight of them children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In Deir Ezzor province in the east, rebel fighters overran the Tanak oilfield east of the provincial capital, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Video footage posted on the Internet by activists showed the bloodied corpses of six soldiers they said were killed in the fighting. Its authenticity could not be verified.
The Observatory said three rebel fighters were also killed.
The rebels control a large swathe of territory in the east stretching from close to Deir Ezzor city to the Iraqi border.
Nationwide, at least 153 people were killed in violence on Friday, 47 of them civilians, the Observatory said.
With concerns in