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Wednesday, April 23, 2014  

Syria to back any initiative for talks
DAMASCUS Syria’s government on Monday welcomed any initiative for talks to end bloodshed in the country, after UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he had a peace plan acceptable to world powers.

The regime’s stand, expressed by Prime Minister Wael Al Halaqi, came amid a flurry of diplomacy led by Brahimi to find ways to end the 21-month conflict.

But the violence still raged, with activists reporting the gruesome discovery of dozens of tortured, headless corpses in a Damascus district, adding that nearly 90 per cent of the 45,000 people killed so far died in 2012.

“The government is working to support the national reconciliation project and will respond to any regional or international initiative that would solve the current crisis through dialogue and peaceful means and prevent foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs,” Halaqi told parliament.

He said the revolt against President Bashar Al Assad’s regime must be resolved only by the Syrian people, “without external pressures or decrees”.

Halaqi said the country was “moving toward a historic moment when it will declare victory over its enemies, with the goal of positioning Syria to build a new world order that promotes national sovereignty and the concept of international law”.

Brahimi said on Sunday he had crafted a ceasefire plan “that could be adopted by the international community”.

The proposal involved a ceasefire, the formation of a government, an election plan, and was based on an agreement world powers reached in Geneva in June.

The violence has escalated, with activists reporting the discovery of 30 tortured bodies in a flashpoint district of Damascus, while a gruesome video emerged of a separate slaying of three children in the capital.

“Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Syrian Revolution General Commission activist network gave a higher estimate of 50 bodies, saying “their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify” them.

The video posted online by activists showed the bodies of three young boys with their throats slit open and hands bound behind their backs. Their bodies were discovered on Monday in Jubar.

The Observatory also reported the killing of the boys, who activists said were kidnapped the day before at a checkpoint on their way home from school.

Regime warplanes, meanwhile, bombarded rebel positions on the outskirts of Damascus, killing eight civilians including two children, said the Observatory.

Fighting erupted in Daraya as army reinforcements massed in the contested town where more than 500 people were reportedly killed in the conflict’s bloodiest massacre in August.

In central Syria, the army shelled the town of Halfaya in Hama province, where an air strike on a bakery last week killed 60 people, and Houla in Homs province, where pro-regime militiamen are suspected of killing more than 100 people in May in another major massacre.

Agence France-Presse
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