The escalating conflict in Syria has the potential of posing a global threat in the not to distant future, claimed international mediator and Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi after talks with President Bashar-al- Assad here.
With the death toll in Syria estimated to be more than 27 000 in the last 18 months, the New York Times and Al-Jazeera Television quoted Brahimi, as saying: "This crisis is deteriorating and represents a danger to the Syrian people, to the region, and to the whole world."
Brahimi's first meeting with the Syrian leader takes place after he replaced former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan as mediator two weeks ago, taking on a mission that he described as "nearly impossible".
Appeals to end the conflict that continue to affect most of Syria's main cities, including Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Deir al-Zor, have been ignored.
The mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are supported by Gulf Arab states and neighbouring Turkey in their struggle to topple Assad, whose minority Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Shi'ite Iran has been Assad's staunchest ally.
Louay Hussein, a prominent Syrian opposition activist in Damascus who met Brahimi, said the mediator "knew the map of the crisis ... [and was] optimistic".
State news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling Brahimi that the success of his mission hinged on "pressuring countries which finance and train the terrorists, and which traffic weapons to Syria, to stop these actions".
His comments came a day after Pope Benedict, starting a three-day visit to neighbouring Lebanon, branded the flow of arms into Syria a "grave sin" and called for a halt to it. (ANI)