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Syrian president tells envoy that support of 'terrorists' must stop

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:05 PM EDT, Sun October 21, 2012
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi holds a press conference in Damascus, Syria, on Sunday.
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi holds a press conference in Damascus, Syria, on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An opposition group reports an "exchange of intense gunfire" between Jordan, Syria
  • At least 135 people were killed throughout Syria on Sunday
  • President Bashar al-Assad meets U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi
  • Brahimi hopes to broker a cease-fire before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha

(CNN) -- Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the United Nations-Arab League envoy on Sunday that countries must stop supporting, arming and providing protection to terrorists -- the government's term for rebels.

Lakhdar Brahimi was in Damascus to try to broker a cease-fire before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins Friday.

The president "stressed that Syria supports the efforts of the U.N. envoy to Syria and is open to any sincere efforts seeking to find a political solution to the crisis based on respecting Syria's sovereignty and rejecting any foreign interference," the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

He "clarified that any initiative or political process should be essentially based on the principle of halting terrorism and what is required in this regard from the countries involved in supporting, arming and harboring the terrorists in Syria (is) to halt such acts," it said.

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For his part, Brahimi told reporters that he had no agenda other than serving the Syrian people.

"I'll come back after the Eid. If there was calm during it, we would build on it, and even it there wasn't, we would work to realize calm," Brahimi said, according to SANA.

Given previous experiences, the odds of a cease-fire between Syrian government forces and rebels are stacked against Brahimi.

The man he replaced, Kofi Annan, made numerous trips to Damascus and was unable to halt the violence.

Opposition activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.

Even as Brahimi and al-Assad met, at least 135 people were killed across the country Sunday, including six children, according to the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) of Syria. Seventy of the deaths were reported in Damascus and its suburbs.

The opposition group also reported an "exchange of intense gunfire" between a Jordanian border patrol and Syrian security forces.

A car bomb went off in the Syrian capital, killing 13 people and wounding 29 on Sunday, SANA said. The report blamed the attack on terrorists.

Syrian forces "continued cleansing neighborhoods in Aleppo and its countryside of terrorists," SANA reported. And an explosive device in a Damascus suburb injured some bystanders, it said, again blaming terrorists.

Opinion: Syria's conflict threatens regional stability

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