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UN Envoy warns of mass death next year in Syria

The international envoy to Syria emphasized the deteriorating situation in the country, and called for a quick end to the conflict, warning hundreds of thousands could die next year.

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Asked if there is any willingness by Assad and the opposition to go into a political process, Brahimi said, "No, there isn't. This is the problem." He added that the two sides don't talk to each other and there is need for help from outside.

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Brahimi hinted that that the Geneva plan might be adopted by the U.N. Security Council, saying, "We have a suggestion and I think that this suggestion will be adopted by the international community."

The Geneva plan was reached in international conferences this summer and has the backing of Russia and China, which have shielded Damascus, as well as the West.

But neither side within Syria appears interested. The rebels reject any efforts that do not call for the ouster of Assad, and Assad's government is unlikely to give up power voluntarily. It is unclear if Security Council backing would significantly up the pressure on either side to support it.

In Syria, activists reported violence from area ranging from the northern provinces of Idlib, Aleppo and Raqqa to the capital Damascus and its suburbs, to the central regions of Hama and Homs, to Daraa in the south.

Activists said Syrian rebels captured an oil pumping station in the north of the country after days of fighting. The Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels captured the station in Raqqa on Sunday.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said the station receives crude oil from the nearby province of Hassakha then pumps it to Homs, home to one ofSyria's two oil refineries.

Rebels have captured in the past months several oil fields in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq. The Observatory said the rebels also captured a military post that used to protect the station.

The Observatory also reported that rebels fought battles with Syrian troops near the border with Jordan and around a major military industrial area in the town of al-Safira in Aleppo. It added that rebels shot down a helicopter in Idlib, in the northwest.

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