News - Afghanistan
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi met Tuesday in Damascus with three opposition groups tolerated by the regime, a day after holding talks with President Bashar al-Assad, an AFP correspondent said.
Brahimi, the UN-Arab League's special envoy to Syria, arrived in the country on Sunday to launch a fresh bid to end the country's spiralling conflict, which in almost two years has killed more than 44,000 people.
He met mid-morning Tuesday with a delegation of six people led by Hassan Abdel Azim, head of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC), at his Damascus hotel, the correspondent said.
The NCCDC brings together several Arab nationalist, Kurdish, socialist and Marxist groups.
Key among Abdel Azim's companions in the meeting were Mohammed Abu Qassem of the Tadamun (Solidarity) party and Bassam Takieddin.
With close ties to Moscow, the NCCDC rejects all calls for foreign military intervention in Syria's conflict. It is not a part of the recently formed National Coalition, which is recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
Brahimi had told reporters on Monday that he and Assad had "exchanged views on the many steps to be taken in the future".
He said the Syrian crisis was "always worrying", and expressed hope that "all parties are in favour of a solution that draws Syrian people together."
Assad described his meeting with Brahimi as "friendly and constructive," according to state television.
But the Local Coordination Committees, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists who organise anti-Assad demonstrations and document the conflict, blasted Brahimi and the international community for failing to stop the bloodletting in Syria.
"Brahimi's arrival in Damascus to discuss a new political initiative to solve the crisis caused by the regime... has not put a stop... to massacres," the LCC said in a statement.
"Regarding leaks about an initiative proposed by Brahimi, the LCC declares its rejection of any initiative that puts Syrians in a position where they are extorted and forced to choose between accepting unfair compromises, or the continuation of the regime's crimes against them," it added.
The statement repeated calls for "Assad and all political, military and security officials to leave power.
"Any plan that gives... this criminal regime impunity against a fair trial and accountability for their crimes is immediately rejected, as it threatens Syrians' chance to achieve justice," the LCC added.
Rumours are circulating that Brahimi may be floating an idea that would allow for a compromise solution in Syria's conflict, leaving Assad in power temporarily.
The rumours began as Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa told a pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper last week that a clear winner was unlikely to emerge in Syria's war, and after Brahimi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early this month.