International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has asked Iranian authorities for help in achieving a ceasefire in Syria during the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha later this month, the United Nations said on Monday.
A statement issued after Brahimi held talks with officials in Tehran also said he underlined that the crisis in Syria “was getting worse every day and stressed the urgent need to stop the bloodshed.”
Eid al-Adha is due to start around Oct. 25.
Brahimi will head to Baghdad on Monday, where he will hold talks with the Iraqi officials over the Syrian crisis.
The veteran troubleshooter is currently on a regional tour aimed at finding a solution to the 19-month conflict in Syria after Damascus rejected a U.N. call to implement a unilateral ceasefire.
Iran, the main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seeks a political solution to the conflict and supports the envoy’s mediation efforts.
The efforts exerted by the U.N.-Arab League envoy coincide with a rise in the death toll across Syria. As many as 220 people have been killed on Sunday by the fire of Syrian forces nationwide, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian activists.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi gave visiting Brahimi a proposal aimed at ending the conflict in key regional ally Syria.
Salehi said Tehran had “handed its unofficial detailed proposal in writing aimed at solving the Syrian crisis” to Brahimi as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in comments broadcast on Arabic-language al-Alam television.
He did not go into details about the proposals, only adding Tehran would support efforts by the international envoy.
Brahimi, who arrived in Tehran from Turkey after meeting with Saudi officials, welcomed the Iranian initiative.
“I thank you for the proposals and as I told you there are some ideas in your proposals which can help by adding to that forwarded by other nations who are also important with regards to the Syrian situation,” Brahimi said in a joint press briefing.
“We hope all these ideas gather into a project to put an end to the Syrian people’s nightmare.”
“I am repeating the call by the United Nations secretary general (Ban Ki-moon) for the initiation of a ceasefire by the Syrian government and asking the opposition to reciprocate once the government commenced,” he added, according to AFP.
Brahimi later on Sunday met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in talks during which the Iranian leader repeated his government’s offer of help in solving the Syrian crisis.
Iran “is ready to cooperate and help in order for the Syrian people to live in calmness and security,” reported the presidency website, president.ir.
“Fighting in Syria means the spread of insecurity in the whole region and efforts exerted to break up Syria will lead to decades of insecurity in the region due to the country’s ethnic structure,” Ahmadinejad told the veteran Algerian diplomat.
“The solution to improve the Syrian situation is for all parties to reach this conclusion that with calmness and security, the Syrian issue can be solved,” the Iranian president said.
“No one should seek to impose his opinion on others and the Syrian people in completely free elections should say their views and everyone should respect the Syrian people's choice,” he added.
Brahimi was quoted by the website as saying that he sought Iran’s “help and cooperation in bringing about stability and security in Syria.”
The Syrian regime was accused Sunday of dropping cluster bombs -- indiscriminate scattershot munitions banned by most nations -- in a new sign of desperation and disregard for its own people.
The international group Human Rights Watch cited amateur video and testimony from the front lines in making the allegation against the government of Assad.
Syria and Turkey, meanwhile, declared their skies off-limits to each other amid mounting cross-border tensions in Syria’s conflict, now a civil war. Turkey is an outspoken backer of rebels trying to oust Assad, according to The Associated Press..
The weekend’s mutual ban on over-flights is part of Turkey’s increasingly assertive stance toward Syria that has stirred concerns about a regional conflagration. In the past two weeks, Turkey has retaliated for stray Syrian shells and mortar rounds, intercepted a Syrian passenger plane on suspicion it carried military equipment, and -- according to a Turkish newspaper Sunday -- sent more warships to naval bases north of the Syrian coastline.
Inside Syria, rebel fighters and regime forces have been locked in a bloody stalemate for weeks, with rebels holding large rural stretches in the heavily populated western area, but unable to dislodge Assad’s troops from urban centers. During the summer, the regime escalated shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held neighborhoods.
Sunday’s report said activists posted at least 18 videos in the past week showing remnants of the bombs in or near the central city of Homs, the northern cities of Idlib and Aleppo, rural areas near the town of Latakia and the eastern Ghouta district close to the capital of Damascus. The group also spoke to residents in the towns of Taftanaz and Tamane who said cluster bombs were dropped in their areas on Tuesday.
There was no immediate report of casualties from the recent cluster bombs, the report said, adding that the munitions shown in the videos were made in the Soviet Union, a major arms supplier to Syria before its collapse in 1991.
Amateur videos cannot be confirmed independently because Syria restricts access to foreign journalists and the government keeps a tight lid on news related to the conflict, which it blames on a foreign conspiracy.
Cluster bombs have also been used in other recent conflicts in the region, including by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled in a bloody uprising last year, and by Israel in its 2006 war with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. U.N. demining experts have said hundreds of thousands of bomblets dropped over Lebanon failed to explode.
The death toll in Syria’s civil war crossed the threshold of 33,000, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers reports from a network of activists.
The group said it counted 33,204 dead as of Friday, including 23,752 civilians or civilians-turned-rebel gunmen, 1,241 army defectors fighting with the rebels and 8,211 regime soldiers.