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Brahimi calls for Syria religious holiday ceasefire

The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi has met Syria's foreign minister in Damascus. Brahimi pressed his call for a ceasefire between government forces and rebels during an upcoming religious holiday.

Brahimi met Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and reportedly outlined his truce proposal for next week's Islamic Eid al-Adha festival starting October 26 as a step toward broader efforts to stem the bloodshed in the 19-month-long conflict.

Activists say the conflict in Syria has claimed more than 30,000 lives since March last year. More than 200 people, activists say, were killed on Friday.

Brahimi, speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. Photo:Bilal Hussein/AP/dapd

Brahimi is pleading for a truce as a first step

Details of their talks were unavailable early on Saturday. Syria did, however, indicate that it wants guarantees that rebel forces would mirror the response of Assad's forces.

The special envoy has already visited numerous Middle East nations to convince Assad's main allies and enemies to support a holiday ceasefire.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has asked both sides to observe the four-day truce.

The United States also voiced its support of the call. "We urge the Syrian government to stop all military operations and call on opposition forces to follow suit," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Iran, one of Assad's strongest supporters, has backed Bahrami's call, but added Syria's main problem at the moment was "foreign interference."

In April, an attempted ceasefire collapsed after just a few days, with each side blaming the other.

The special envoy to Syria at that time, Kofi Annan, resigned from his position a few months later.

jlw/ipj (dpa, Reuters)

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