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Syria tells Iran it wants talks with opposition

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Syria tells Iran it wants talks with opposition


Syria’s government would welcome peace talks with rebels to end the uprising, according to its ambassador in Iran.

Hamed Hassan said Syria had co-operated to implement the plan of UN peace envoy Kofi Annan but that other countries had scuppered it, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

But the discussions must be supervised by President Bashar al-Assad, a condition opposition groups are unlikely to accept.

It comes as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to take part in an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca.

Speaking before his departure he said he hoped the meeting on Tuesday would ease tension and enmity and encourage empathy.

However, there seems little chance of finding common ground with violence raging as pro and anti regime forces battle for control of cities like Aleppo.

The head of the UN monitors mission has blamed both sides for escalating the fighting across the country.

General Babacar Gaye said: “It is clear that violence is increasing in many parts of Syria. The indiscriminate use of heavy weapons by the government and targeted attacks by the opposition in urban centres are inflicting a heavy toll on innocent civilians.”

Meanwhile, rebels in eastern Syria claim to have downed a government jet, but state television says the plane crashed due to technical difficulties. Video of the stricken fighter is impossible to verify.

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