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Syria envoy visits Lebanon, calls for truce

Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has touched down in Lebanon. His visit is part of a regional tour to discuss the Syrian crisis with countries that neighbor the troubled state.

International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Wednesday that the conflict in Syria could engulf the entire region, but there was a slim chance of ending the conflict through a holiday truce.

"This crisis cannot remain confined within Syrian territory," Brahimi said to reporters following talks with officials in Beirut, Lebanon.

"Either it is solved, or it gets worse... and sets [the region] ablaze. A truce for [the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha would be a microscopic step on the road to solving the Syria crisis," said Brahimi.

Eid Al-Adha is a Muslim holiday, which will be celebrated on October 26.

The Syrian National Council, the major opponent to the Syrian government, tentatively welcomed Brahimi's calls for a three-day ceasefire during the religious festival when the envoy first mooted the idea on Monday. The proposal was rejected by the rebel Free Syrian Army, however, which claimed that the government would merely use it as a chance to plot new offensives.

Whispers of a visit to Damascus

The successor of former peace envoy Kofi Annan added that he was visiting countries neighboring Syria in order to gain an insight into their views on the Syrian conflict. Lebanon is Brahimi's latest stop in his second tour of the Middle East region.

Although Brahimi confirmed that he would visit Damascus, he did not mention a specific date. Unconfirmed media reports indicated that the envoy would touch down in Syria on Thursday.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria on Wednesday, the government launched at least six air raids on villages in Idlib, a province in northern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

There was also heavy fighting in Aleppo, near the Kowriss military airport, added the watchdog.

More than 33,000 have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which began 19 months ago, say activists.

sej/jr (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)