International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Damascus Friday for talks with Syrian officials on securing a temporary cease-fire in the 19-month-old conflict between Syrian forces and rebel groups.
The U.N.-Arab League envoy is scheduled to meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Saturday morning. He is also expected to meet with President Bashar al-Assad on his trip.
The peace envoy is pushing for Syrian officials to support a cease-fire during the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that begins October 26. He told reporters Thursday after meeting Jordan's foreign minister that a respite in hostilities could build confidence and help bring about a longer truce in the 19-month-old conflict.
Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has also appealed to Syrian forces and rebel groups to observe the cease-fire.
On Thursday Syrian activists and medical officials said a series of government air strikes on rebel areas in the country's north had killed at least 43 people, including many children.
The activists said the strikes happened late Wednesday and early Thursday and hit five areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, including the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan which is strategically located along the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The road connects Syria's two largest cities.
Insurgents who have been attempting to cut the Syrian Army’s supply lines to Aleppo took control of Maaret al-Numan earlier this month.
A previous cease-fire in April collapsed after just a few days, with each side blaming the other. Then-mediator Kofi Annan later resigned from his post.
Photo Gallery: Latest Images from Syria
Smoke rises from behind buildings after a shelling at Karm al-Jabal in northeast Aleppo, Syria, October 19, 2012.
Demonstrators hold opposition flags and banners during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Houla near Homs October 19, 2012.
Smoke, caused by mortar bombs and gunfire during clashes between the Syrian Army and rebels, rises from the Syrian border town of Haram as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border near the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province October 19, 2012.
Destroyed houses, the result of shelling by Syrian government forces, in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs province, Syria, October 18, 2012.
A member of the Free Syrian Army holds up a poster of Hafez al-Assad, the father of current President Bashar al-Assad whose defaced picture hangs on a garbage bin in Aleppo, October, 17, 2012.
A family in a pick-up truck flees violence in the city of Aleppo October 17, 2012.
Syrians rescue people from under the rubble of a destroyed building that was attacked by a Syrian force airstrike, at Kfar Nebel town, in Idlib province, Syria, October 17, 2012.
A member of the Free Syrian Army patrols through the alleys of the old part of Aleppo, October 16, 2012.
Members of the Free Syrian Army and residents carry the body of Ammar Ibrahim Reslan, whom activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Idlib, October 16, 2012.
Syrian women work on their field in the village of Tarafat, Syria, October 14, 2012. The Aleppo rebellion started off in the rural areas of Aleppo province, not in the city as was the case in most other parts of Syria.
Free Syrian Army fighters are seen on the front line in Aleppo's Bustan Al-Basha district in Syria, October 15, 2012.
The Armenian plane that was forced to land at Erzurum Airport, eastern Turkey, October 15, 2012.
Free Syrian Army fighters in a storage room in the Karmal Jabl district of Aleppo Syria, October 14, 2012. Rolls of fabric are seen on the ground.