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Iran: Only Syrians can resolve conflict

Iran Materials 19 September 2012 18:48
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Salehi said Wednesday that Syria’s 19-month-long conflict could only be resolved by Syrians, before heading to talks with President Bashar al-Assad, reported dpa.
Iran: Only Syrians can resolve conflict

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Salehi said Wednesday that Syria's 19-month-long conflict could only be resolved by Syrians, before heading to talks with President Bashar al-Assad, reported dpa.

"The crisis can be solved only in Syria and within the Syrian family," Syria's state news agency quoted Salehi as saying upon his arrival in the capital Damascus.

Salehi met with al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, according to state media.

The Iranian official, whose country is a key ally of al-Assad, had called earlier this week for simultaneous cessation of fighting without foreign intervention.

In Cairo, Salehi also attended a meeting of a regional contact group on Syria, set up according to a proposal by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

The group comprises Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - who back the uprising against al-Assad's regime - and Iran. Saudi Arabia did not attend the Cairo talks.

Salehi told his Egyptian and Turkish counterparts that observers from the contact group could "monitor the halt of violence in Syria," the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

On the ground in Syria, at least 60 people, mainly in pro-rebel areas near Damascus, were killed across the country Wednesday, opposition activists said.

Rebels retreated from the districts of Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam in the south of Damascus after fierce fighting with al-Assad's troops, said the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But rebels had seized a Syrian border crossing near Turkey after clashes with al-Assad's troops, it said.

Video footage on the internet showed rebels tearing down the Syrian flag and pictures of al-Assad at the Tel Al-Abyad border post.

Three Turkish civilians were wounded by stray bullets fired across the Syrian border, the Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya reported.

The incident prompted Turkish authorities to warn citizens to stay away from the Syrian border and shut down schools in the area, according to the report.

The human rights group Amnesty International meanwhile accused Syrian government forces of carrying out "indiscriminate" air and artillery strikes, mainly targeting civilians.

"Such indiscriminate attacks violate fundamental provisions of international humanitarian law, as they fail to distinguish between military targets and civilian objects," said the watchdog's senior crisis researcher Donatella Rovera, who travelled to 26 towns and villages in Syria between August 31 and September 11.

The London-based group said many of the victims were children, who died in attacks that struck people in their homes, or trying to take shelter from the shelling.

The watchdog also criticized rebel fighters whom it said had committed human rights violations.

The opposition says more 27,000 people have died in Syria's conflict. The United Nations puts the death toll at 20,000.

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