UNITED NATIONS - International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is due to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday, the United Nations said, as he tries to find a way to end the country's 18-month conflict, which has killed thousands.

Brahimi, who replaced former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the start of September as the UN-Arab League Syria mediator, arrived in Damascus on Thursday as state forces pounded its eastern outskirts to flush out rebels trying to retain a foothold in the Syrian capital.

"Tomorrow Mr Brahimi will hold more meetings including with a group of Arab ambassadors and charge d' affairs, a European Union delegation, an opposition group and civil society representatives and Mr Brahimi will meet the Syrian President," UN spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci told reporters on Friday.

Earlier on Friday the veteran Algerian diplomat met with the Russian ambassador to Syria and the Chinese charge d' affairs and on Thursday he spoke with the Iranian ambassador to Syria.

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