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British PM Cameron says Assad could leave Syria

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the Arab news network Al Arabiya arrangements can be made to move the Syrian president out of the country.

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At the United Nations, diplomats cited a senior UN official as telling the Security Council that Brahimi had urged Russia to be "more pro-active" in resolving the Syrian crisis.

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In a closed-door session of the 15-nation council, UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman also said he had received credible reports of the use of cluster bombs by Syrian government forces, the envoys reported.

Big powers and regional nations are split over Syria. Russia and China have blocked three Western-backed UN Security Council draft resolutions aimed at exerting pressure on Assad.

Brahimi, speaking in Cairo on Sunday, called on the council to adopt a resolution based on an understanding brokered by his predecessor Kofi Annan in Geneva in June which called for the establishment of a transitional government in Syria.

The Geneva Declaration did not specify what role, if any, Assad would play in a future Syria.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the Syrian opposition to enter talks with the authorities to end the crisis and abandon a precondition that Assad step down.

"The most important thing is stopping the violence immediately. If it is more important to the other side to change the Assad regime, then they want to continue the bloodbath in Syria," Lavrov said in Amman after meeting former Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab, who defected to Jordan in August.

Hijab said Assad's removal was "the only way out".

Assad's foes have also failed to unite, making it harder for the outside world to support or arm them.

Opposition factions were meeting in Qatar in an effort to forge a common front between civilians and rebels, Islamists and secularists, as well as groups outside and inside Syria.

Prominent dissident Riad Seif has proposed a new 50-member unity council, but the head of the widely criticized Syrian National Council (SNC), which is based abroad, said it should retain a "central role" in any opposition configuration.

A Doha-based diplomat said SNC members feared their group risked losing influence in the new civilian body, which would later choose an interim government and coordinate with armed rebel groups. Seif's initiative is to be debated on Thursday.

Syria has accused Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, among others, of fueling the bloodshed by backing the rebels.

The Syrian struggle has taken on a sectarian tone, with mostly Sunni rebels battling loyalist forces dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf Arab states are wary of powerful Shi'ite neighbor Iran, one of Assad's few allies.

Syria's neighbors all fear spillover from the conflict in the shape of refugee inflows, cross-border violence or a wider upheaval igniting Sunni-Shi'ite tensions across the region.

In Turkey, fiercely critical of Assad, the state-run news agency reported the arrival overnight of seven Syrian army generals who had defected and crossed the border.

Scores of Syrian officers have defected to Turkey since the uprising began. About 112,000 Syrian refugees are housed in camps along Turkey's 560-mile border with Syria.

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