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Syria fighting rages on last day of ineffectual cease-fire

Beirut, Oct 30 (): Syrian government’s shelling of areas held by opposition forces and a car bomb in a suburb considered loyal to President Bashar Assad killed and injured dozens of people on Monday, state news media and activists said.

The fighting came on what was supposed to be the last day of a four-day holiday cease-fire. The truce, however, was broken within hours of its start on Friday.

The air raid blasts, heard coming from several outlying districts, rattled windows in the city centre and were among the most intense in Damascus since the beginning of Syria’s 19-month conflict.

Each side in the 19-month-old conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and rebels, blamed the other for breaking the truce proposed by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to mark a Muslim holiday.

Earlier, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and told a news conference they were disappointed that neither the government nor the rebels were observing a Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday truce.

Brahimi said “this appeal has not been heard at the level we hoped it would.” He will continue working to try to reduce the level of violence, he said, demanding greater international pressure on both sides in Syria.

Russia had thrown its support behind Brahimi’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s army and the rebels to lay down arms during the Eid al-Adha holiday. However, shelling and car bombings resumed hours after the ceasefire had been due to take effect on Friday.

Beijing, keen to show it does not take sides in Syria, has urged Damascus to talk to the opposition and meet demands for political change and has advocated a transitional government.

Although President Bashar al-Assad’s government and several rebel groups accepted the plan to stop shooting over the Muslim religious holiday, it failed to stem the bloodshed in a 19-month-old conflict that has already cost at least 32,000 lives.