The Straits Times
Published on Oct 23, 2012

'Slim' hope of truce as fighting rages on Syria battlefields


DAMASCUS (AFP) - Hopes of a truce being implemented in war-torn Syria during this week's Muslim Eid holidays are "slim," the Arab League said on Monday, as rebels and troops engaged in fierce clashes in Damascus and on northern battlefields.

But the United Nations held on to the hope that the two warring sides will observe a truce during the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday which begins on Friday, saying it had plans to assemble a peacekeeping force if a ceasefire takes hold.

"We are getting ourselves ready to act if it is necessary and a mandate is approved," UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said in New York. He warned, however, that the plans would need the approval of the 15-nation Security Council which has been divided on the 19-month conflict.

UN-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he contacted political opposition leaders inside and outside Syria and armed groups in the country and "found them to be very favourable" to the idea of a truce.