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Brahimi Pushes for Syria Peace Talks on Egypt Visit



The U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria is in Cairo as part of a regional tour aimed at garnering support for a peace conference in Geneva next month.

Lakhdar Brahimi met Saturday with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy. He is due to hold talks with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday.

The so-called "Geneva Two" conference would be aimed at establishing a transitional government to run Syria and prepare it for democratic elections.

After holding talks with Brahimi about a week ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has "lost the legitimacy to be a cohesive force" that can unite people. Kerry said it is imperative to get the Geneva conference organized by a mid-November target the United Nations has set.

In other news, a Syrian activist group said at least 16 soldiers were killed in a suicide car bombing and ensuing clashes with rebels outside Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front carried out Saturday's suicide attack.



The blast went off at a checkpoint between the rebel-held area of Mleha and the pro-government town of Jaramana, which is populated by Christians and Druze.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency also reported the attack.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said nine Shi'ite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped last year in Syria have been freed as part of a negotiated hostage deal.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions more since it began in March 2011.

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