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Syrian clashes killed at least 25 people as fighting raged a day before a cease-fire the United Nations said was set to come into effect over a Muslim holiday, according to an opposition group.
Fighting took place today near Damascus, the capital, and in Aleppo, Daraa and Deir Ezzor, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said by phone today from London. Six civilians, including three children, six rebels and 13 government soldiers died in the violence, he said.
“There’s no sign at all of any preparation for a cease- fire, on both sides, because both sides are attacking each other,” Rahman said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some rebel groups agreed to a cease-fire during the Eid al-Adha holiday that is due to start tomorrow in most of the Muslim world, UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who’s been working on a truce for two months, said yesterday. Assad will respond positively today to the cease-fire, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters in New York.
“It’s difficult to imagine the rebels would agree, basically because of the divisions,” Ayham Kamel, Middle East analyst at Eurasia Group Ltd., said by phone from London. “They will be suspicious of the regime accepting it and they will see it as an opportunity for them to move forward.”
The UN Security Council backed the proposal yesterday and urged outside countries to use their influence on the government and rebels to implement the cease-fire. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei today announced his country’s support for the halt to fighting at a regular briefing in Beijing.
“We commend and support the mediation efforts of the UN special envoy and the cease-fire decision during the holiday in Syria,” he said. “We are also happy to see the reaction by relevant parties to the recommendations.”
Assad’s government has been fighting a 19-month uprising that the observatory says has killed more than 30,000 people, and the UN has registered more than 350,000 Syrians who have fled from their homeland. The conflict has spilled over into Lebanon and Turkey.
The Syrian government and opposition fighters last agreed to a halt in hostilities in April. The conflict resumed within days, with each side accusing the other of failing to abide by its terms.
Acceptance of the cease-fire by Assad’s government “doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t mean everyone on the ground will agree,” Rahman said.
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