DAMASCUS: International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was set to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus Saturday, hoping to breathe life into stalled peace efforts, as fighting rages in Damascus and beyond.
On Friday Brahimi met Syrian opposition figures who said he was bringing "new ideas" to the peace effort, as blasts rocked Damascus and regime air strikes targeted rebel areas in Aleppo.
Brahimi held talks with opposition groups tolerated by Assad's regime such as the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, which groups Arab nationalists, Kurds and socialists.
"We told Mr Brahimi... of our support for his efforts to resolve the crisis by ending the violence and killings, providing medical care and releasing political prisoners," Hassan Abdel Azim, the bloc spokesman, told reporters.
"Mr Brahimi will listen to the opposition and officials and crystalise new ideas and a plan that could succeed," he said after their talks in a Damascus hotel, adding that the peace initiative of his predecessor Kofi Annan would be amended.
"There will be new ideas and measures," Abdel Azim told reporters.
He said a delegation of his group would leave on Saturday for China, a key Damascus ally, to urge Beijing to "put pressure on the regime to stop the violence, free detainees and allow peaceful protests."
Brahimi "will meet the Syrian president in the morning" on Saturday, United Nations spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said, adding that the international peace envoy would also hold talks with Arab ambassadors and a European Union delegation.
Brahimi is on his first Damascus visit since his appointment to replace Annan who quit the post after a hard-sought peace deal he brokered became a dead letter.
Brahimi said on arrival on Thursday that the conflict was deteriorating.