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Violence rages on in Syria despite cease-fire

Violence continued in Syria on the third day of what was meant to be a four-day truce for the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday. Meanwhile, the UN-Arab League peace envoy is planning a new bid to halt the conflict.

Syrian planes shelled areas at the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, on Sunday, activists said, the third day of a failed cease-fire.

Government forces carried out three air raids on the Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, Zamalka and Harasta. Black smoke was also seen in the Ghoutta region, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The opposition group also reported clashes between troops loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels in the northern areas of Aleppo and Idlib.

At least 120 people were killed on Saturday, the Observatory said. The four-day truce, which was brokered by United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, was violated within hours of it coming into force, with the government and the opposition blaming each other.

Peace envoy not giving up

Despite continued violence, Brahimi will soon make a new bid to halt the conflict, diplomats said.

He is expected to head to the Security Council in November with new proposals aiming to push Assad and the Syrian opposition into political talks, UN diplomats told the AFP news agency.

This week, Brahimi is to travel to Russia and China: the Security Council members that have blocked a series of resolutions aimed at putting pressure on Syria to end the bloodshed.

One senior UN diplomat said that Brahimi will return with ideas for the Security Council next month.

"The political process will not start until Assad and the opposition have battered each other so much that there is no choice. They are not there yet, but Brahimi has some ideas," added another envoy at the Security Council who confirmed that Brahimi is expected to make fresh proposals within weeks.

Nineteen months of conflict has now left more than 35,000 dead, according to Syrian activists. Because of severe restrictions placed on journalists in Syria, these figures are virtually impossible to independently confirm.

hc/pfd (dpa, afp)