BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey calls for truce in Syria for Muslim holiday

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahme Davutoglu(R)) and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Foreign Affairs Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija talk before a meeting in Ankara on October 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN

ANKARA: Turkey on Friday joined an appeal for a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed in Syria during a Muslim holiday next week.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said both Syrian forces and rebels should end hostilities "at least" through the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday that begins on Oct. 26. He said the sides should also aim for a truce that lasts beyond the holiday.

The Joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to the Syria conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi, and a number of countries are pushing for a temporary truce. Brahimi has called on the Syrian government to take the initiative, a position echoed by Turkey.

Davutoglu said: "It is especially important for the Syrian regime, which has launched bombs on its people with planes and helicopters, to halt these attacks immediately and without preconditions."

"Let's hope that the Syrian regime listens to this call by the international community and stops these attacks during Eid al-Adha," he said. "In response, we expect the opposition to abide by the cease-fire in the same way."

Syria says it wants a cease-fire but the rebels lack a unified leadership that can agree to it.

Both sides have flouted previous cease-fires after verbally agreeing to them.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, called for the truce on Thursday. The Iraqi government also expressed its support in a statement, calling on all sides to abandon violence "to save the region from more miseries and pains."

Activists say more than 33,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising started in March 2011.

Davutoglu on Friday also promised increased food and medical aid for Syria during the holiday.

 

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