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Hope of Syria ceasefire ebbs

Optimism about the possibility of new peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi brokering a temporary ceasefire in Syria is fading fast. In contrast, there are growing fears that the conflict could spill beyond the country's borders.

Syria's main opposition on Monday expressed strong skepticism that Damascus would honor a temporary holiday ceasefire, as violence continued to rage in the war-torn country.

"The current indications don't show any good signs," the head of the Syrian National Council, Abdul-Basset Seyda, told broadcaster Al Arabiya.

"The Syrian regime's statements are usually different from its actions," Seyda added.

The Arab League's deputy secretary general, Ahmed Ben Helli, also articulated his doubt on Monday of a truce being implemented

"Unfortunately, hope for implementing the truce during Eid al-Adha is slim so far," Helli told AFP on Monday.

"The signs, both on the ground and by the government ... do not point to the presence of any real will" to establish a ceasefire, he added.

Meanwhile Syrian state media said it supported the idea of a truce but would not cease fighting until the West and Gulf countries withdrew their support for Syrian rebels.

Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is trying to garner support for a ceasefire during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, which begins on October 26. The UN attempted to broker a ceasefire in Syria in April, but it failed to take hold.

Kofi Annan's successor also met Syrian President Bashar Assad in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Sunday and held talks with Chinese and Russian ambassadors in the country. Beijing and Moscow have so far opposed attempts to apply tough UN Security Council sanctions on Assad's regime.

Escalation and ceasefire

Events in Syria on Monday also threw hopes of a ceasefire into further doubt. At least 60 people were killed in the country on Monday, mostly following violence in the city of Aleppo, according to opposition Local Coordination Committees.

The watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebels had killed at least nine soldiers and wounded 20 during an attack on an army checkpoint in the northern province of Idlib on Monday.

Fears of a regional spillover also heightened on Monday after a Jordanian soldier was killed in a confrontation with militants close to the Syrian border. It is the first fatality suffered by Jordan due to the Syrian conflict.

There were also growing fears of a spillover into Lebanon after clashes broke out in parts of Beirut and the northern port of Tripoli late on Sunday.

sej/pfd (dpa, AFP)