BEIRUT - International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has asked Iranian authorities for help in achieving a ceasefire in Syria during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month, his spokesman said on Monday.
"Brahimi has appealed to the Iranian authorities to assist in achieving a ceasefire in Syria during the forthcoming Eid Al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays celebrated by the Muslims around the world," his spokesman said, referring to the Islamic holiday which starts around October 25 and lasts several days.
Brahimi made the request in talks with Iranian leaders during a visit to Tehran, which has strongly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's efforts to crush a 19-month-old uprising.
During the talks Brahimi also underlined that the crisis in Syria "was getting worse every day and stressed the urgent need to stop the bloodshed," the spokesman said. A ceasefire would "help create an environment that would allow a political process to develop," he quoted Brahimi as saying.
Kofi Annan, Brahimi's predecessor, negotiated an April 12 ceasefire agreement which led to a slight dip in the violence for a few days but saw fighting steadily escalate in the ensuing weeks. Since April, clashes have spread to new areas of the country and more than 100 people are killed daily while Assad has used fighter jets and helicopters to crush the revolt.
Turkey housing an estimated 100,000 Syrian refugess
Meanwhile, the Turkish disaster management agency (AFAD) said on Monday that the number of Syrian refugees housed in camps in southern Turkey has exceeded 100,000, a level beyond which Ankara had previously said it would struggle to accommodate more.
AFAD said in a statement there were now 100,363 Syrians at more than a dozen camps in Turkish provinces along the border.
Turkey, which has taken on an increasingly leading role in international opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, has called already for the United Nations to build refugee camps in a safe zone within Syria's borders.
Tensions between Turkey and Syria have risen in the past two weeks because of cross-border shelling, and escalated on Oct. 10 when Ankara forced down a Syrian airliner en route from Moscow, accusing it of carrying Russian munitions for Assad's military.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday Turkish air space had been closed to Syrian planes. Syria banned Turkish planes from flying over its territory on Saturday.
Ashton says Iran nuclear talks could resume 'very soon'
With respect to Iran, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Monday said that negotiations with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program could move forward very soon.
EU foreign ministers were set to meet Monday to agree to another round of sanctions against Tehran. The ministers are expected to impose new measures against Iran's banking sector, industry and shipping as part of an attempt to persuade the Islamic Republic to scale back its nuclear program by increasing pressure while continuing to offer talks.
"I hope we will be able to make progress very soon," Ashton, who represents six major powers in their on-and-off talks with Iran, told reporters ahead of the meeting, referring to the resumption of talks.
"I absolutely think there is room for negotiations."
The new measures against Iran mark a significant change of policy for the EU, which has so far focused on targeting specific people and companies with economic restrictions.
Iran has refused in three rounds of talks since April to scale back its nuclear work unless major economic sanctions are lifted.
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders