Envoy to hold talks with AL as rebels vow to overthrow Assad by force

Published September 17th, 2012 - 01:14 GMT

Syria rebels said they were determined to overthrow the regime by force, casting further doubts on the successful chances of international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi. After a four-day visit to Damascus he described as "extremely difficult", the international envoy was preparing Monday to report to the Arab League about his talks with President Bashar al-Assad as well as rebel leaders.

He is also expected to participate in Cairo at the first meeting of the "contact group" on Syria (Iran, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia), according to Iranian media. Mr. Brahimi himself had warned that "we should not expect miracles."

Faced with "gross violations" in this ongoing conflict which claimed the lives of 27,000 people in 18 months, the President of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has recommended to the UN Security Council to take "appropriate measures" towards the abuse."

In a report, Paulo Pinheiro has raised "the seriousness of violations, abuses and crimes committed by government forces and shabbihas (pro-regime militia) as well as anti-government groups."

The UN experts had already denounced the "war crimes" committed by both government troops and the opposition army, but on a smaller scale. They argue that a confidential list of officials was drawn as the first step towards possible international prosecution.

On the ground, the spiral of violence knows no respite, with fighting and bombings in Aleppo, the second largest city in the country and the scene of a fierce battle for eight weeks. On Sunday, violence claimed the lives of 148 people, including 101 civilians.

Fighting took place on Monday in areas around the air military intelligence headquarters in Aleppo. According to activists, the Syrian army bombarded Qadam, Aassali and Hajar al-Aswad - all rebellious neighborhoods in Damascus.

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