The Straits Times
Published on Sep 10, 2012

Envoy begins 'difficult' Syria mission as violence rages


CAIRO (AFP) - Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi admitted on Monday he faces a "very difficult" task as he launched his mission to Syria, where warplanes bombed rebel zones and clashes claimed dozens more lives.

Iran said meanwhile it was joining officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for a four-way meeting in Cairo of a "contact group" proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, looking at ways to calm the Syrian conflict.

In Geneva, UN leader Ban Ki Moon called for all war criminals in Syria to be brought to justice, as his human rights chief urged a probe into the slaughter of hundreds of people in the town of Daraya. On his first trip to the region since being appointed last week, Mr Brahimi said after meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo that he plans to visit Syria "in a few days."

"I realise it's a very difficult mission, but I think it is not my right to refuse to give whatever assistance I can to the Syrian people," Mr Brahimi told reporters. "I will go to Damascus in a few days and I will meet officials and civil society members in the capital and outside," he said.