Syria discusses peace proposals with Russia
Syria senior diplomat sent to Moscow to discuss Brahimi peace proposals.
BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a senior diplomat to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss proposals to end the conflict convulsing his country made by international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Syrian and Lebanese sources said.
Brahimi, who saw Assad on Monday and is planning to hold a series of meetings with Syrian officials and dissidents in Damascus this week, in trying to broker a peaceful transfer of power, but has disclosed little about how this might be done.
More than 44,000 Syrians have been killed in a revolt against four decades of Assad family rule, a conflict that began with peaceful protests in March last year, but which has descended into civil war.
A video posted by rebels on Wednesday showed the bodies of dozens of soldiers executed by a roadside. At least one of them appeared to have been beaten to death. The United Nations and rights group say the military and rebels have both committed war crimes, but have so far placed most of the blame on the army.
Past peace efforts have floundered, with world powers divided over what has become an increasingly sectarian struggle between mostly Sunni Muslim rebels and Assad's security forces, drawn primarily from his Shi'ite-rooted Alawite minority.
Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Makdad flew to Moscow to discuss the details of the talks with Brahimi, said a Syrian security source, who would not say if a deal was in the works.
However, a Lebanese official close to Damascus said Makdad had been sent to seek Russian advice on a possible agreement.
He said Syrian officials were upbeat after talks with Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, who met Foreign Minister Walid Moualem on Tuesday a day after his session with Assad, but who has not outlined his ideas in public.
"There is a new mood now and something good is happening," the official said, asking not to be named. He gave no details.
Russia, which has given Assad diplomatic and military aid to help him weather the 21-month-old uprising, has said it is not protecting him, but has fiercely criticised any foreign backing for rebels and, with China, has blocked UN Security Council action on Syria.