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UN announces new envoy as Syria forces shell key cities

UN announces new envoy as Syria forces shell key cities

PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian forces launched new air strikes and shelled rebel strongholds in several key cities on Saturday, August 18 a watchdog said, after the UN named a new envoy to try to end the conflict, AFP reported.

The intensified fighting, particularly in and around the key northern hub of Aleppo, has sent thousands more Syrians fleeing into neighbouring countries as the divided international community appears powerless to act.

The United Nations said Friday that veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi would take over as international envoy from Kofi Annan, who quit this month after the failure of his peace plan.

And Brahimi admitted he was not confident he would be able to end the 17-month-old conflict, which activists say has killed 23,000 people, while the UN puts the toll at 17,000.

"I might very well fail but we sometimes are lucky and we can get a breakthrough," the 78-year-old said. "We have got to try. We have got to see that the Syrian people are not abandoned".

His appointment was announced the day after the UN called time on its observer mission in Syria.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to give the new envoy "strong, clear and unified" support, after Annan complained his mission had been hamstrung by the deep rift on the UN Security Council between the West and traditional Damascus allies Beijing and Moscow.

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