Syria mediator wants UN resolution based on Geneva deal

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A United Nations Security Council resolution to set up a transitional Syrian government in a bid to end the bloodshed should be implemented based on a deal world powers had reached in June, international mediator on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said on Sunday.

The Geneva Declaration, that was agreed in June 30 when Kofi Annan was still international mediator, called for a transitional administration but did not specify what role, if any, Russia’s ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have.

“It is important that the Geneva Declaration be turned into a resolution from the Security Council to gain the power to enable it to become an applicable political project,” Brahimi said after a meeting between him, Lavrov and Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby in the Egyptian capital, according to Reuters.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking at the same Cairo news conference, dismissed the need for a resolution and said others were stoking violence by backing rebels, comments that highlighted divisions and the impasse over the crisis.

The uprising began with peaceful protests in March 2011 but turned into an armed revolt after Assad turned his military on the demonstrators. About 32,000 people have been killed.

“I encourage member states at the Security Council to continue talks to reach this resolution,” said Brahimi, appointed by the United Nations and League, who earlier pressed for a ceasefire during a Muslim holiday last month that failed.

Lavrov said both sides should be forced to sit down to negotiations, saying Moscow backed the Geneva Declaration.

“Unfortunately, some countries which participated in Geneva don’t speak with the government but only with the opposition and encourage them to fight till victory and this has very negative implications,” he said.

“Maybe we don’t need a resolution” from the Security Council, he said, adding that a resolution could lead to more instability by creating conditions to remove the Syrian government. “This is a successful recipe to continue the bloodshed,” he said.

Elaraby noted that disagreement between the five veto-wielding powers on the Security Council prevented reaching any binding agreement.

Russia and China, both permanent council members, have vetoed three Western-backed U.N. draft resolutions condemning Assad’s government for the violence. The other three permanent members are the United States, Britain and France.

China said on Thursday it had proposed a new initiative to head off an escalation of violence in Syria, including a phased, region-by-region ceasefire and the establishment of a transitional governing body.

“There is no military solution to the crisis,” Brahimi said, adding that without a political process to end the violence “the crisis won’t stay inside Syria but will flow to neighboring countries and possibly distant countries.”

Opposition shoots warplane

The talks on Sunday came as opposition fighters seized a major oilfield and shot down a warplane in eastern Syria Sunday, a watchdog said, notching up new battlefield successes even as the opposition met in Qatar under U.S. pressure for a makeover.

The rebel opposition in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor came as warplanes pounded their positions around Damascus and in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.

State media also reported that a blast near the Dama Rose Hotel in the heart of the capital wounded 11 civilians. It blamed "terrorists," the regime's term for armed rebels.

The hotel hosted U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi during his visits to Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the seizure of the oilfield was an opposition first since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted in March 2011.

"Rebels in the Jaafar Tayyar Brigade took control of Al-Ward oilfield, east of the town of Mayadin, after a siege that lasted several days," it said.

"This is the first time the rebels have taken control of an oilfield," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The fighting began at dawn and lasted several hours, said Abdel Rahman, adding 40 soldiers were either killed, wounded or captured.

The Observatory later said rebels in Deir Ezzor had shot down a warplane, with initial reports indicating the pilot had been captured.

Fighting also erupted near a political intelligence office in Damascus province, the Observatory said, adding warplanes later carried out three raids on the Ghuta region northeast of the capital.

To the south of Damascus, eight civilians were killed by mortar fire in the Yarmuk Palestinian camp, in clashes between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and rebels, the Observatory said.

The Observatory gave an updated toll of at least 134 dead -- 66 civilians, 41 soldiers and 27 opposition fighters -- nationwide on Sunday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, meanwhile, said it has delivered humanitarian aid to the beleaguered districts of Khaldiyeh and Hamidiyeh in the central city of Homs for the first time in months.

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