Peace envoy Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi said on Thursday the deadly conflict in Syria was getting worse as he arrived on his first official trip.
"We came to Syria to hold meetings with our Syrian brothers because there is a big crisis, and I think it is getting worse," the official SANA news agency quoted the UN-Arab League envoy as saying at Damascus airport. "I think everybody agrees the need to stop the bloodshed and to restore harmony, and we hope that we will succeed," said Ibrahimi, who succeeded former envoy Kofi Annan who quit after his six-point peace plan for Syria foundered.
"During his visit to Syria, Mr Ibrahimi will hold talks with the government and with representatives of the Syrian opposition and civil society," said a statement from his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi, who also said that the veteran Algerian diplomat would be meeting President Bashar al-Assad.
Ibrahimi was to meet Foreign Minister Walid Muallem later on Thursday, an official Syrian source said.
He will meet on Friday with members of opposition groups tolerated by the Syrian regime.
Ibrahimi was accompanied by Mokhtar Lamani, who will remain in Damascus to assume his new functions as head of office for the Joint Special Representative for Syria in the city, Fawzi said.
Syrian deputy foreign minister Fayssal Al-Miqdad said: "We trust that Ibrahimi has a general understanding of the developments and of the way to solve problems despite the complexities. We are optimistic and we wish Ibrahimi success."