Syria pledges to cooperate with new U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi


Syria is ready to cooperate with new U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the deputy foreign minister said on Thursday, adding he hoped the veteran Algerian diplomat would help pave the way for “national dialogue”.

“We have informed the United Nations that we accept the appointment of Mr. Brahimi,” Faisal Muqdad told reporters in Damascus.

“We are looking forward to seeing... what ideas he is giving for potential solutions for the problem here,” he added.

“As we cooperated with the Arab and U.N. missions, we will definitely cooperate with Mr. Brahimi if he wishes so.”

However, Syria was accused by international observers of not fully cooperating with the previous U.N. mission: ceasefire deadlines were not met by Syrian regime security forces and deadly violence continued across the country.

Brahimi was appointed to replace former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, after he announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as envoy following the failure of his six-point peace plan.

“We are not going to tell Brahimi what to do before he even arrives, he is an international expert,” Muqdad said. “But I think it is critical to have a good understanding of the evolution of the crisis, far from international pressures.”

Muqdad said he hoped Brahimi would help kick-start a process of national dialogue.

“There will be no winners in Syria, as the West is betting there will be,” he said. “Syria will win, thanks to its people, its leader and its government, which will make the right choices in the midst of these difficult circumstances.”

Muqdad said “foreign interference” was the leading cause of the 17-month-conflict, which the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday has now killed nearly 25,000 people since March last year.

The minister said he hoped Brahimi would play “an active role (in facing up to) parties who do not want a solution to the crisis and, in particular, those funding and arming terrorists, extremists and Salafis (hardline Sunni Islamists).”

Brahimi, 78, was the U.N. envoy in Afghanistan before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, and in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

On Thursday, at least 200 people were killed by security force gunfire accord the country, according to the Local Coordination Committees in Syria activist group.

Meanwhile, another Syrian activist group voiced fears on Thursday that regime forces could execute 100 prisoners in the Jobar neighborhood in Damascus, Al Arabiya reported.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad blames the conflict on “armed terrorist groups,” which it says are being financed by the West, Gulf Arab states and Turkey.