UN envoy says no peace conference without Syrian opposition

UN envoy says no peace conference without Syrian opposition

A long-awaited Syria peace conference would not be held if the opposition boycotts the talks, the international envoy to Syria said Friday, hours after Israel fighter jets reportedly attacked a Syrian military base on the Mediterranean, dpa reported.

The presence of the opposition is "essential and important," UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said in Damascus at the end of a five-day visit.

The opposition National Coalition plans to meet in Turkey November 9 to make a final decision on its participation in the conference in Geneva.

The National Council, the biggest group within the coalition, threatened to quit the alliance if it decides to participate.

But Brahimi said he hopes the conference would be held as soon as possible.

No date has been set for the talks, proposed by the United States and Russia to end the Syrian conflict, but Brahimi was to meet officials from both countries Tuesday in Geneva.

Brahimi said the flow of arms to all parties involved in Syria's 31-month civil war should stop and reiterated that there "is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. There should be a political solution."

The conflict, which began with anti-government protests in 2011, has killed more than 100,000 people, according to UN estimates.

The UN envoy also urged the Syrian regime to facilitate the mission of the Red Cross and the delivery of humanitarian aid to areas witnessing heavy fighting.

Brahimi has been in Damascus since Monday, where he met President Bashar al-Assad. He is to head to Beirut by land to hold talks with Lebanese officials.

His statements came hours after Israel fighter jets targeted missiles and other equipment at a Syrian military base near the port city of Latakia, according to media reports.

The area is believed by Israel to be used to store missiles that might be transferred to Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah militia.

Israel TV 2 reported that the attack, which apparently occurred early Thursday morning, targeted a highly sophisticated anti-aircraft installation.

Syrian media loyal to the regime had earlier reported that a missile had been fired from the Mediterranean, possibly by the Israeli navy.

There was no official confirmation by Israel.

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Israel has attacked several military targets in its neighbouring country. Those attacks were reportedly aimed at hindering the transport of weapons to the pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the special coordinator of the joint mission to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons, Sigrid Kaag, was due in Moscow Friday for talks with Russian officials.

Kaag, a Dutch national, will meet deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Russian news agencies reported.

His visit comes after the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Syria has destroyed all its declared production equipment for the production of chemical weapons.

It was the first step towards eliminating the country's arsenal of the banned weapons by mid-2014 under a September UN Security Council resolution.

Yet to be determined is the country in which the chemical weapons will be destroyed if they cannot be entirely liquidated inside Syria.

Norway last week rejected a US request to destroy the arms.

Moscow's Kommersant newspaper quoted Russian diplomats as saying that Albania was emerging as a possibility. Russia is ready to contribute about 2 million dollars for the planned chemical weapons destruction, the report said.

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