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Terrorism & Security

Syria: Little hope for Eid ceasefire as conflict spills across borders (+video)

An Arab League official indicates a cease-fire is unlikely as Syrian President Assad has signaled little support. Meanwhile, the conflict is showing signs of spilling into Lebanon and Jordan.

By Staff writer / October 22, 2012

A Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover within the confines of a damaged building during clashes with the Syrian Army in Karmal Jabl district, Aleppo, Syria, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.

Manu Brabo/AP

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Europe Editor

Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor.  He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog.  He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.

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An Arab League official says hopes for a cease-fire in Syria over the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha are "weak," as President Bashar al-Assad shows little indication of support for the concept, despite his words in favor of a ceasefire.

Ahmed Ben Helli, deputy secretary general of the Arab League, told Reuters that "The indications that are now apparent and the government's reaction ... do not show any signs of a real desire to implement this cease-fire." The proposal, brought to Mr. Assad and the rebels over the weekend by United Nations special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, would entail an end to fighting beginning Oct. 26 and and lasting through the weekend, during the holiday of Eid al-Adha. 

"We are days away from Eid," Mr. Ben Helli said. "We hope the situation changes and the government and opposition respond even a little bit to this door for negotiations."

Mr. Brahimi met separately with Syrian rebel leaders and Assad over the weekend, reports Deutsche Welle. Although the opposition is said to be in favor of a ceasefire, DW writes that Assad was less receptive to the idea and conditioned his regime's acquiescence to a political solution to the conflict on an end to foreign powers' arming of the rebels.

Assad called for a "halt to terrorism" as well as "a commitment on the part of certain implicated countries to stop harboring, supporting and arming terrorists" in Syria, state-run television reported.

Violence continued unabated in Damascus and Aleppo over the weekend as Brahimi pushed for a peaceful resolution, reports Al Arabiya. The rebel-controlled town of Harasta, on the outskirts of Damascus, was the scene of ongoing clashes as regime troops attacked the city, killing "scores" of rebels and civilians. And fighting continued across Aleppo, where rebels and regime troops have been clashing for three months. The London-based opposition group the Syrian Observation for Human Rights says that 173 people, including 65 civilians, were killed nationwide yesterday.

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