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UN envoy to Syria: Assad thinks he can turn back the clock (+video)

UN envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi told diplomats in New York that the situation in Syria is dire, and described the conflict's particularly heavy toll on children.

By Staff writer / September 25, 2012

Lakhdar Brahimi, joint special representative for Syria, arrives at closed door consultations regarding the situation in Syria at the Security Council at United Nations headquarters Monday, Sept. 24.

David Karp/AP

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Latin America Editor

Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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Explosions hit a school building in the Syrian capital, which activists claim served as a rendezvous for security forces and pro-government militias. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

As the United Nations General Assembly Debate kicks off in New York today, the 18-month-old protracted conflict in Syria is expected to take center stage, particularly after calls by the UN envoy to Syria for the international community to change its approach to the civil war.

“The situation in Syria is dire and getting worse by the day,” Lakhdar Brahimi said after his first report to the Security Council as UN envoy yesterday, according to The New York Times. Mr. Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister, took over for Kofi Annan as UN envoy to Syria three weeks ago.

“There is a stalemate; there is no prospect today or tomorrow to move forward,” Brahimi said, noting that now that he’s learned more about what is happening inside Syria, he hopes “we will find an opening in the not too distant future.” According to the Times, Brahimi found that President Bashar al-Assad hoped to return to "the old Syria" rather than move toward marked political change:

“I refuse to believe that reasonable people do not see that you cannot go backward, that you cannot go back to the Syria of the past,” Mr. Brahimi said at the news conference. “I told everybody in Damascus and elsewhere that reform is not enough anymore, what is needed is change.”

Still, he stressed that he did not have a specific new plan, but was relying on the never-implemented six-point peace plan, basically a cease-fire, first proposed by Mr. Annan, as well as a communiqué calling for a political transition that many nations, including Syria’s staunch supporters Russia and China, signed off on in June.

In the latest reports from Syria, several bombs were detonated by rebel forces inside a school held by the Army today, injuring at least seven people, according to the Associated Press.

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