UN envoy to meet Syrian opposition leaders ahead of Damascus visit
The United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is Wednesday to meet with Syrian opposition leaders in Cairo before heading to Damascus for his first talks with Syrian officials, an Arab diplomat told dpa.
"We learned that Brahimi will go to Syria on Thursday," the diplomat based in Beirut said on condition of anonymity.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that Brahimi would meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during his visit to Damascus. Ban did not give a specific date for the trip.
A spokesman for the main opposition Syrian National Council spokesman, George Sbara, told dpa that earlier this month Brahimi had met SNC officials in France who had briefed him on the situation in Syria.
"We told him that the regime has to leave before any dialogue or talks on a transitional period in Syria," Sabra said.
Brahimi, who is currently in Cairo, replaced former UN chief Kofi Annan who quit last month over divisions at the UN Security Council on the conflict that has gripped Syria for 18 months now.
In Syria on the ground, clashes between al-Assad's troops and rebels erupted near a major airport in the embattled province of Aleppo, the opposition said.
"Fierce clashes are taking place five kilometres away from the airport, which up till today has been operating despite the fighting in the province," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa.
The London-based organization said in a statement that the Syrian army was bombarding rebel-held areas across Aleppo, mainly in the southern districts of Bustan al-Kasr, Sukari and Kellaseh and the north-eastern districts of Sakhur, al-Shaar and Hananou.
Both sides have been battling for control of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city and economic hub, since mid-July.
At least 138, including 93 civilians, were killed across Syria on Tuesday, according to the observatory.