October 17, 2012 - 21:56 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Rebels downed a helicopter in fierce fighting Wednesday, Oct 17, with troops seeking to retake a key Syrian town, a watchdog said, as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned the conflict risks setting the region ablaze, AFP reports.
The battle for the Damascus-Aleppo highway raged around the northwestern town of Maaret al-Numan even as Brahimi appeared to have won tentative support for a ceasefire plan.
The UN and Arab League envoy warned of the conflict spreading as he visited neighboring Lebanon, the latest leg of a Middle East tour aimed at ending more than 19 months of bloodshed.
"This crisis cannot remain confined within Syrian territory," the veteran troubleshooter told reporters in Beirut.
"Either it is solved, or it gets worse... and sets (the region) ablaze. A truce for (the Muslim holiday of) Eid al-Adha would be a microscopic step on the road to solving the Syria crisis."
Brahimi called this week for a temporary ceasefire during the four-day Eid holiday starting on October 26.
"The Syrian people, on both sides, are burying some 100 people a day," he said on Wednesday.
"Can we not ask that this toll falls for this holiday? This will not be a happy holiday for the Syrians, but we should at least strive to make it less sad. If the Syrian government accepts, and I understand there is hope, and if the opposition accepts," a truce would be a step "towards a more global ceasefire".