TEHRAN, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria called on Iran Monday to help achieve a cease-fire in Syria during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
In a meeting in Tehran with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others, special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said a cease-fire during one the Muslim community's holiest holidays, which begins Oct. 26, would help create an environment in which a political process could develop, the United Nations said in a release.
Brahimi "told his interlocutors that what was needed in Syria today was real change; our primary goal, he said, is the welfare and well-being of the Syrian people and to help them build a future that meets their own legitimate aspirations," a statement read by his spokesman said.
Brahimi also repeated a call by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a cease-fire and an end to the shipment of arms to both sides of the conflict.
Brahimi has been conducting talks with regional leaders, including the Syrian government and members of the Syrian opposition, to seek a solution to the crises that began in March 2011.
The United Nations estimates that more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad began. Another 2.5 million Syrians need humanitarian aid, and more than 340,000 Syrians have fled into Syria's neighboring countries.
The World Health Organization Monday condemned attacks on health facilities in Syria, expressing concern about the implications the attacks have on medical personnel, patients and health infrastructure.
"WHO reinforces the obligation of all parties in a conflict under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health professionals during conflict," the organization said in a release. "Health facilities must be treated as neutral premises and never be exploited for military purposes."
The health organization said nearly 67 percent of Syria's public hospitals have been affected, and half of the country's ambulances have been the subject of attack. Vehicles transporting vaccinations have also been damaged, affecting the implementation of a national immunization program.
"At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, it is vital that these facilities be protected and medical staff allowed to safely provide medical care to patients without any risk," the agency said.
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