Fierce fighting was raging in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria?s commercial capital which has been battered by warfare between troops and rebels for the past three months. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes erupted on Monday morning when troops tried to storm the rebel-controlled town of Harasta on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus.
At least eight civilians and eight rebels were killed in fighting and shelling there on Sunday, the Britain-based Observatory said. In Aleppo, clashes raged in the southwest rebel district of Salaheddin, Izaa in the north and the Old City in the centre. The Observatory said that on Sunday alone, 173 people were killed nationwide, adding to a toll of more than 34,000 people it says have died since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March last year.
Meanwhile, Both the exiled Syrian opposition and the Arab League expressed doubt on Sunday over the possibility of achieving a ceasefire by Eid as the Arab League envoy pressed both parties to unilaterally declare an end to fighting.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria has been pushing for a temporary ceasefire to mark the Islamic festival of Eid Al Adha, which will begin on Friday and last over the weekend.
But Ahmad Bin Hilli, deputy secretary-general of the Arab League, said: ?Until now the hope is weak … The indications that are now apparent and the government?s reaction … do not show any signs of a real desire to implement this ceasefire,? he said.
?We are days away from Eid. We hope the situation changes and the government and opposition respond even a little bit to this door for negotiations.?
Meanwhile, Syria?s main opposition group cast doubt that the Al Assad regime would implement a temporary ceasefire proposed by Brahimi.
?The current indications don?t show any good signs,? the head of the Syrian National Council, Abdul-Basset Seyda, told the Dubai-based broadcaster Al Arabiya.
?The Syrian regime?s statements are usually different from its actions,? he added.
Brahimi is trying to get Syrian government and the rebels to implement a temporary ceasefire over Eid Al Adha. A UN-brokered ceasefire in April never took hold. While Brahimi has expressed hope for a positive outcome to his initiative, he has not given any indication of progress, calling on both parties to unilaterally declare a ceasefire.
Speaking after his meeting with Al Assad on Sunday, Brahimi said that ?everyone can start this [ceasefire] when they want, today or tomorrow for example, for the period of the Eid and beyond,? he told reporters at a Damascus hotel, according to Reuters.
Brahimi said he had contacted opposition figures inside and outside Syria, including rebel fighters, as well as officials in neighbouring countries, some of which support the insurgency. ?They answered that they would respond positively to a [ceasefire] initiative from the government,? he said. ?We hope this Eid in Syria will be calm, even if it is not a happy Eid.?