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UN Envoy to Push Peace Plan in Syria

FILE - This SANA photo shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, speaking with U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura in Damascus, Nov. 10, 2014.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura arrived in Damascus on Saturday for talks aimed at ending the fighting in Syria.

The diplomat hopes to persuade both sides in the conflict to stop fighting in Aleppo through a series of locally negotiated truces that would allow humanitarian aid to be taken in — part of a "very complicated but very important effort" to make progress in Syria.

De Mistura said in mid-February that the Syrian government had agreed to suspend airstrikes and artillery shelling in the divided city. He still needs the armed opposition's support for the plan, which includes a request for it to suspend rocket and mortar fire in the same period — a difficult task with the multitude of rebel factions present in Aleppo.

De Mistura met in November with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who called the proposal something "worth studying."

The U.N. envoy has said that Aleppo is an "iconic example" of how the violence could end and bring hope to Syrians who are tired of nearly four years of violence.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 as peaceful protest but spun into a civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people. The United Nations says there are now 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. The fighting has displaced another 6.5 million people within Syria.