News Update :

Russia proposes Syria conflict conference

Thursday, September 20, 2012

FRANCE: Russia is proposing the organisation of a conference bringing together “all the players” of the deadly Syria conflict, including opposition groups, citizens and the ruling regime, a top official told a French newspaper.

“We are proposing to our Western partners the organisation of a 'Taif conference' between all the players of the conflict,” Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Le Figaro in an article to appear Wednesday.

He was referring to an agreement signed in the Saudi city that brought the end of the Lebanon civil war in 1990.

“This conference should bring together opposition and regime figures as well as Christian, Alawite and Druze community members,” Bogdanov added.

“Given the opposition divisions and the weapons reaching the rebels, the risk of a Somalia-isation of Syria is real, if the regime were to suddenly collapse tomorrow. According to Le Figaro, the Russian official was in Paris over the weekend, where he met French diplomats and Syrian opposition figures.

The Taif agreement was signed October 22, 1989 by Muslim lawmakers and Lebanese Christians to end the 15-year civil war.

Bombardments by troops saw fighting ground to a standstill on Tuesday in Syria's second city Aleppo, a watchdog said, amid reports a civilian refuge was targeted in the same province.

Water supplies were largely restored in the northern city three days after a main pipeline was ruptured during clashes between government forces and rebel fighters, witnesses and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based Observatory reported shelling attacks on the Aleppo neighbourhoods of Haidariyeh, Hanano, Meyseer and Shaar overnight, and that one rebel had been killed in the fighting.

“The rebels have been trying for three days to enter Midan (in central Aleppo). Last night the army launched an operation and pushed them north, back toward Bustan al-Basha,” a resident told AFP on the phone. In the town of As-Safira, “mortar fire from an air defence battalion targeted residential buildings and a school, where many refugees from disaster-stricken areas sought refuge.

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