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Brahimi Says Has Syria Plan All World Powers May Back

By AFP

December 30. 2012 -- CAIRO (
AFP) - International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned Sunday the Syrian war was worsening "by the day" as he announced a peace plan he believed could find support from world powers, including key Syria ally Russia.

Brahimi's comments in Cairo after meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi came as Syrian forces pressed a fierce offensive for control of the central city of Homs and as fighting raged around Damascus and on northern battlegrounds.

The situation in Syria "is very bad and getting worse by the day," Brahimi told reporters, a day after warning in Moscow that Damascus faced a choice between "hell or the political process."

He said 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," the UN and Arab League envoy said, without giving details.

"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 that world powers agreed to in Geneva in June.

That plan was rejected by Syria's opposition, which is adamant that President Bashar al-Assad's departure is a given before any national dialogue such as that under the Geneva initiative can take place.

The international action group on Syria comprises the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- and representatives of the Arab League, the UN and EU and Turkey.

Russia and China have so far vetoed three attempted Security Council resolutions seeking to force Assad's hand with just a threat of sanctions.

Brahimi held talks in Moscow on Saturday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his end-of-year bid to accelerate moves to halt the conflict that monitors say has killed 45,000 people.

The talks came amid signs that key Syrian ally Russia was beginning to distance itself from Assad's government.

Lavrov said both he and Brahimi agreed there was hope for a solution as long as world powers put pressure on both sides.

"The confrontation is escalating. But we agree the chance for a political solution remains," Lavrov said.

On the ground, regime forces fired rockets and shelled rebel-held districts on Sunday after overrunning a key Homs neighbourhood the previous day, in its first major advance in the central city in months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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

The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.

Near Damascus, loyalist troops carried out air raids on towns along the eastern outlying belt and on Daraya in the southwest, while fighting between rebels and the army erupted in the northeastern and southwestern suburbs, the Observatory said.

The watchdog said 13 children were among the victims of bombardments in and around Damascus on Saturday, while 10 children were killed in air strikes across Aleppo province, including on rebel-held Aazaz near the Turkish border.

Analysts say the surge in air strikes by Syrian forces is a desperate attempt by President Bashar al-Assad's regime to reverse rampant gains by rebel fighters, especially in the north of the country.

Rebels meanwhile made further advances on Sunday in the battle for the Hamidiyeh military post in the northwest province of Idlib which they stormed the previous day, the watchdog said.

Brahimi on Saturday painted a stark picture of Syrian neighbours Jordan and Lebanon being overrun by a million refugees should heavy fighting for the seat of power break out in Syria's five-million-strong capital.

"If the alternative is hell or the political process, we have all of us got to work ceaselessly for a political process," Brahimi said in Moscow.

Lavrov warned that Syria threatened to dissolve into a failed state similar to Somalia -- a nation overrun by warlords and jihadists.

Brahimi on Sunday echoed that warning. "Either there is a political solution in Syria" or the country risks a descent into a Somalia-like situation, he said.

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