Syria welcomes Algerian Brahimi as Annan successor
The Syrian government on Saturday welcomed the naming of a former Algerian diplomat as the U.N.'s new point-man in efforts to halt the country's escalating civil war.
In a statement, the office of Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa not only expressed support for Lakhdar Brahimi, it also denied reports circulating in Arab media that al-Sharaa had defected to the opposition.
Al-Sharaa "did not think, at any moment, of leaving the country," the statement said.
The new U.N. envoy, Brahimi, takes over from former Secretary-General Kofi Annan who is stepping down on Aug. 31 after his attempts to broker a cease-fire failed. His appointment comes as U.N. observers have begun leaving Syria, with their mission officially over at the end of Sunday. Their deployment earlier this year had been one of the only concrete achievements in Annan's peace attempts. The observers had been intended to watch over a cease-fire, but no truce ever took hold.
Al-Sharaa's office said the vice president "supports Brahimi's demand to get united support from the Security Council to carry out his mission without obstacles."
Meanwhile, activists reported more shelling by regime troops, including an air attack on a northern border town where scores died earlier this week.
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