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UN envoy to Syria on way to Damascus

BEIRUT (AP) — The international envoy for Syria’s civil war arrived in Beirut on Sunday and planned to travel by land to Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Lebanese airport officials said.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the United Nations and the Arab League, has made little apparent progress toward brokering a negotiated solution to Syria’s crisis since he assumed his post in September, mostly because neither side appears interested in talks.

The security situation inside Syria has declined in the meantime, with rebel forces expanding their control in the north and near the capital and storming a number of army bases, making off with valuable arms as booty.

The rebel progress is reflected in Brahimi’s trip. Instead of flying into the Damascus airport as he has on two previous visits, Brahimi was to travel to the Syrian capital by land because of fighting near the airport, the Lebanese officials said.

Brahimi did not speak publically upon his arrival in Beirut Sunday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said Brahimi was expected to meet Syria’s foreign minister later Sunday and Bashar on Monday.

Anti-regime activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed since Syria’s crisis began in March 2011.

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