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UN special envoy admits he has no plan for Syria crisis

UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has offered a grim assessment of the war in Syria during a closed door meeting with the Security Council. Brahimi said he does not yet have a full plan to end the stalemated civil war.

In his first briefing to the Security Council since taking over as the UN-Arab League special envoy, Brahimi said that the situation in Syria "was extremely bad and getting worse," adding that "there is no prospect today or tomorrow to move forward."

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"The situation is extremely difficult and there is a stalemate," Brahimi told the Security Council on Monday, as world leaders gathered in New York for Tuesday's General Assembly meeting.

Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, took over his post from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on September 1. Annan had resigned as the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria out of frustration over the diplomatic deadlock within the 15-member Security Council.

'No full plan'

Western and Arab states have presented three draft resolutions to up the pressure on the Assad regime, all of which were vetoed by permanent members China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow are concerned that EU states and the US are seeking a pretext to intervene militarily in Syria, as they did in Libya in 2011.

Annan had drafted a six-point peace plan, which called for dialogue between the warring parties after the implementation of a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the regime's heavy weapons from population centers. But the ceasefire never stuck, and the conflict has escalated into a full-blown civil war since the spring.

Brahimi, who in the past has described his task as "nearly impossible," told the council that he has not yet drafted a plan to end the Syrian conflict.

"I do not have a full plan for the moment, but I have a few ideas," the Algerian diplomat said. "I have agreed with the Council I will come back here as soon as possible with more ideas on how we move forward."

'Millions of lives shattered'

Brahimi laid out the humanitarian situation in Syria to the council, saying that 1.5 million people have fled their homes and at least 280,000 are living in refugee camps in neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The UN-Arab League special envoy estimates that the Assad regime has detained more than 30,000 people in jail "or in one of the much feared 'secret' detention centers where maltreatment and medieval forms of torture are so common." He said that more than 1,000 people have died of severe torture.

"Millions of lives have been shattered," Brahimi told the council. The UN estimates that 20,000 have been killed in the 18-month-long conflict, while activist groups such as the Syrian Observatory for Human rights put the number at 30,000.

While accusing the Assad regime of not being serious about dialogue and reform, Brahimi said that he believed a breakthrough in Syria was still possible.

"I think that we will find an opening in the not-too-distant future," the Algerian diplomat said. "I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward, that you cannot go back to the Syria of the past."

slk/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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