UN Envoy Arrives in Damascus Seeking Truce Over Islamic Holiday

UN Envoy Arrives in Damascus Seeking Truce Over Islamic Holiday
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad, right, welcomes United Nations Peace Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi upon his arrival in Damascus airport. Photographer: -/AFP/Getty Images

Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations peace envoy, arrived in Damascus a day after Syrian warplanes bombed a rebel-held northern town, killing at least 28 people.

Brahimi will meet Syrian officials and opposition leaders over the next few days, his spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said in an e-mail. He is expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem tomorrow, ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in an e-mail.

Brahimi has proposed a halt in the fighting in Syria during the days of the festival of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest periods of the Muslim calendar, which begins Oct. 26. Turkey and Iran have expressed support for the idea.

At least 60 people have died across Syria today, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria said. It reported protests in several provinces after Friday prayers. More than 30,000 people have lost their lives since the start of the uprising in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian planes bombed Maarat al-Numan in the northern province of Idlib yesterday, killing 28 people including nine children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based pro-opposition group. Footage on Al Arabiya television showed civilians and rescue workers searching for corpses and survivors. Clashes broke out between Syrian troops and the rebels in the area this morning, the observatory said.

Turkey fired artillery at Syrian positions today after two shells from across the border landed in Turkish territory, Turkey’s state-run TRT television said. The Syrian shells landed in an empty field and didn’t cause casualties, and the Turkish response targeted a similarly empty location, it said. Turkish jets were also flying patrols along the border.

Turkey is backing the rebels fighting against Assad, and allows them to operate from Turkish territory. Tensions have escalated after a shell fired from Syria killed five Turkish citizens earlier this month.

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