U.N. envoy vows to halt Syria war

DAMASCUS - The newly minted U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria vowed Thursday during his first visit to Damascus to "spare no effort" to help end that country's civil war.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who replaced Kofi Annan as the international community's point man for the conflict, held "candid and comprehensive" talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, a U.N. statement said.

"Mr. Brahimi emphasized that, as he said before, he would spare no effort to help find a solution to the crisis," the statement read. "His only masters in this endeavor were the Syrian people, whose welfare and security were his prime concern."

Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, was also to meet with opposition figures and other groups during his visit.
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Brahimi was named to the post after Annan resigned in August, blasting the Syrian government for refusing to implement a cease-fire he had negotiated in April and complaining about the "escalating military campaign" of the opposition.

The 18-month-old conflict claimed another 165 lives Thursday, opposition activists reported, with 66 reported in the suburbs of Damascus and another 52 in the commercial hub of Aleppo. Both cities have been the scene of recent intense fighting between government troops and rebel fighters.

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