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Syria mission is 'nearly impossible', says new UN envoy

On the ground, activists say the death toll from the 18-month conflict has now reached 26,200.

Two boys play on a Syrian military tank which was destroyed during fighting in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo.
Two boys play on a Syrian military tank which was destroyed during fighting in Azaz on the outskirts of Aleppo.
Image: Muhammed Muheisen/AP/Press Association Images

KOFI ANNAN’S REPLACEMENT as the United Nations special envoy to Syria has told the BBC that his mission is “nearly impossible”.

Lakhdar Brahimi has been appointed by the UN-Arab League after Annan stepped aside, stating he could no longer see a way of fulfilling the task.

His peace plan had been largely ignored by both sides in the conflict and violence across the Middle East country escalated during his time in the position.

“I’m coming into this job with my eyes open, and no illusions,” said Brahimi from New York. “I know how difficult it is – how nearly impossible. I can’t say impossible – nearly impossible.”

He has admitted to having “ideas” but “no plan yet”. Despite his pessimism, the appointment of the Algerian UN heavyweight has been welcomed. He has not called on President Bashar Assad to step down or resign, while also distancing himself from Syrian rebels.

“Please remember I am not joining your movement,” he told them. “I am working for two international organisations, the United Nations and the Arab League, and I do not speak the same language as you.”

Brahimi added that change could not be “cosmetic” and that the people of Syria will have to decide on its “new order” as change is inevitable.

Meanwhile, activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 26,200 people have died since fighting began. According to Al Jazeera, the group have claimed August as the bloodiest month with nearly 5,500 civilians, rebels and government forces killed.

UNICEF says that close to 1,600 people were killed during fighting last week – an even higher estimate than from the Syrian Observatory.

Reports from the ground in Syria cannot be independently verified as the Assad regime has restricted access to foreign journalists.

More: Syrian refugees tell of “indiscriminate violence”>

A butcher, a barber and a policeman: meet Syria’s rebels>

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