Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem meets United Nations-Arab League peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, in Damascus - Reuters
UN and Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has arrived in Syria's capital, Damascus, and is set to meet president Bashar al-Assad in an attempt to broker an end to the country's civil war.
Brahimi is taking over the intermediary role previously played by Kofi Annan, who became disillusioned during Syria's civil war and eventually said he found the situation impossible.
Brahimi, a veteran diplomat who is part of the global network of peace-seeking world leaders known as The Elders, freely admitted the situation in Syria is getting worse.
Speaking to Reuters, he said: "We came to Syria for consultation with the brotherly Syrians... there is a crisis and I think it is deteriorating."
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Soon after his arrival, Brahimi had a brief discussion with Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem, during which the special envoy insisted that he would leave no stone unturned to halt the violence in the country.
The Assad-backed state media reported that Moualem was keen on upholding the Syrian people's interest and safety.
Brahimi also met the Iranian ambassador to Syria Mohammed Reza Shibani, whose country has been a strong ally of Assad throughout the uprising.
Shibani said the meeting was "good and fruitful."
As the diplomatic talks continue, violence continues across Syria, the latest chapter in a civil war which has claimed nearly 27,000 lives during the past 17 months.
Helicopters belonging to Assad's regime have fired on the eastern suburbs of Damascus killing scores of rebels, it has been reported. Fighter jets were also witnessed bombarding the region.
The latest attacks are part of Assad's strategy to wipe out opposition groups from the outskirts of important cities, which have been strongholds for the insurgents. Rebels have pulled back from several areas in the face of the relentless assault.
Shelling in the suburbs of Damascus has destroyed hundreds of houses, leaving in its wake mountains of debris.
"Any house that had any link to the Free Syrian Army has been destroyed," a resident from the outskirts of Damascus told Reuters.
Responding to the latest incidents, British foreign secretary William Hague once again stressed that political transition is the only way out of the crisis.
Speaking in Baghdad, Hague said: "That [political transition] is the only way to avoid a protracted civil war, or the collapse of the Syrian state, or an even greater flow of refugees and loss of life."
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