The international envoy for Syria says he hopes for peace in the war-torn country and an early return home for Syrian refugees, after he met them at a camp in Turkey.
U.N.-Arab league envoy Lakhdar Brahimi Tuesday toured the Altinozu camp in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border, as dozens of refugees staged a demonstration denouncing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Lakhdar BrahimiLakhdar Brahimi
- Named United Nations-Arab League envoy for Syria in August 2012
- Appointed special advisor to U.N. Secretary-General in 2004
- Headed U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2004
- Other U.N. posts include special representative for Haiti and South Africa
- Algerian foreign minister from 1991 to 1993
- Under-Secretary-General of the Arab League from 1984 to 1991
- Served as Algerian ambassador to Britain, Egypt and Sudan
Turkey, which has taken in more than 80,000 Syrian refugees at 14 separate camps, serves as headquarters for leaders of the Free Syrian Army rebels and hosts members of the Syrian National Council opposition grouping.
Iraq opens border
Also Tuesday, Iraq reopened its border with Syria to receive refugees escaping violence, but refused entry to young men for security reasons.
The Al Qaim border crossing was closed at the end of August when Syrian forces fought rebels for control of an airfield and military base near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal, which is located on a major supply route from Iraq.
Meanwhile, activist groups reported Tuesday that Syrian government troops continued to shell several districts in the key northern city of Aleppo and the capital, Damascus.
Four-nation contact group in Cairo
On Monday, foreign ministers from a newly-formed quartet on Syria met in Cairo for the first time.
The four-nation contact group brought together three supporters of the Syrian rebellion — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — with the Syrian government's top regional ally, Iran.
The United States objects to Iran's involvement in Syrian talks. On Tuesday, Iran denounced Western media reports saying that Egypt has been trying to coax Iran into giving up its support for the Syrian president.
Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are demanding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down in order to bring peace to the country. Iran accuses Turkey and Saudi Arabia of supplying military support to anti-government rebels while Tehran has acknowledged sending military advisers to aid Syrian forces.
The United Nations says more than 20,000 people have been killed in the conflict; 1.2 million are uprooted within Syria, and more than 250,000 have fled abroad.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.