News

    Syrian Deadline Passes, Violence Continues

    In this image from an amateur video and released by the Syrian Media Council, smoke rises following purported shelling in Homs, Syria, April 10, 2012.
    In this image from an amateur video and released by the Syrian Media Council, smoke rises following purported shelling in Homs, Syria, April 10, 2012.
    Margaret Besheer, Pamela DockinsDaniela Tulis

    The U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, said Tuesday the next 48 hours must "bring visible signs of immediate and indisputable change in the military posture of the government forces" in Syria.  

    In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Annan disputed Damascus' assertion that it is withdrawing its military from several cities, saying the Syrian army is pulling back from some areas but moving to others not previously targeted.

    Watch a related report by Henry Ridgwell


    The letter also urged the opposition to keep its commitment to stop fighting under the six-point peace plan, which demands an end to all hostilities by 6 a.m., Damascus time, on Thursday.

    But despite continued violence, Mr. Annan said the peace plan is "still on the table."

    He said: "So let me again appeal to the Syrian government and the Syrian parties to cease violence in accordance with the plan.  And I believe there should be no preconditions for stopping violence.  There is something we need to do for the people and for the country concerned."

    Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan:

    • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
    • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
    • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
    • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
    • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
    • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

    Members of the Security Council, meanwhile, expressed deep concern about the level of commitment to a cease-fire the Syrian government has demonstrated so far.  

    U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who holds the council presidency this month, said that if Syria fails to fulfill its obligations, then the international community and the Security Council will have to decide whether to remain unified and take the next step.  She said that would be to increase pressure on the Assad regime through collective action.

    On the ground, however, violence continued.  Syrian rights groups said at least 31 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the government shelling Tuesday - mainly in the central Hama region and the northwestern town of Mareh.

    "Annan's peace plan all but dead"

    Middle East expert Salman Shaikh says Mr. Annan's peace plan has virtually collapsed.

    "His six-point plan is dead on arrival. It is not working," he said. "What is not dead is diplomacy. But, I think we need to now look very seriously at what other parts diplomacy can take. In my view, it has to be a much more coercive effort which tries to pull the international community to do something in Syria."

    Shaikh, the director of the Brookings Doha Center, says the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, sees force as his only option.

    "I'm afraid what Assad has determined is that only a security approach will manage to keep the lid on the protests which have now spread through the length and breadth of his country," he said.  "In fact, if he was to withdraw his forces in any credible fashion, he would be facing hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Syria, something he cannot afford any longer."

    Give peace a chance

    Representatives of Syria's main opposition alliance, the Syrian National Council, said Tuesday at least 1,000 people have been killed by government forces in the last eight days.

    SNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani said there were no indications that President Assad was honoring terms of the cease-fire, and stressed the opposition group could not accept a partial withdrawal of government forces.   

    Kodmani added that despite the killings, the opposition alliance is still willing to give peace a chance, but that it will explore other options if diplomatic efforts to end the crisis fail.   

    Deep skepticism among Syrian refugees

    Mr. Annan's efforts to end the ongoing bloodshed in Syria have been met with deep skepticism by Syrian refugees, many of whom are calling for direct intervention by the international community against the government's crackdown.

    Mr. Annan visited the Yayladagi refugee camp in Turkey Tuesday.  

    "I have had the chance to meet men and women who have been uprooted from their homes and are now here," he said. "I hope it is not going to be for long.  But to hear their stories, to hear how they came across, how they were shot at, some with their children, was heart-wrenching."

    Mr. Annan praised Turkish authorities for the facilities they have provided, saying the camps were better than most he has visited.

    But observers say Mr. Annan is aware the Turkish government is increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria and the fear the country could be faced with a humanitarian disaster.

    Ankara has warned it could intervene in Syria if the numbers of refugees markedly increased.  Due to the situation, Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a visit to China and is to visit Saudi Arabia on Friday to discuss the issue.  

    Also Tuesday, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and John McCain visited the camp and issued a statement accusing the Syrian president of having no interest in complying with the Annan plan.  The senators said Mr. Assad is buying time to intensify his crackdown.

    "Make no mistake: the situation in Syria is an armed conflict. This is a war," the statement said.

    Dorian Jones in Istanbul and Lisa Schlein in Geneva contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Scott G.
    April 13, 2012 1:25 AM
    Another display of the great impotence of the United Nitwits and Goofy Annan. The only people who believed the "treaty" would work were probably Madame Clinton and Barack Obama; everyone else has learned the pseudo-organization is a total sham.

    by: Cha Cha Cohen
    April 11, 2012 4:07 AM
    Head of states protects citizen not the power hungry money making armed rebelions.Unlucky innocents get caught in between! Assad has popularity in his own right and deserves to stand in a free & fair election.Rebelions has no right to be armed to create conflict for the opportunists!Annan's cease fire not be one sided! Every one should think 'what are they doing and up to, if that is just'. Lets not create another Libya, now they are killing each other!

    by: LY THUONG KIET
    April 10, 2012 7:24 PM
    How can peace come to Syria if other outsiders continue to encourage violence there by their actions while speaking out of peace.

    by: NVO
    April 10, 2012 2:56 PM
    The UN is a SHAM! They are hand in hand with The Rothschilds, The Rockefellers, The Club of Rome, The Trilateral Commission, The Clintons, The Counsel on Foreign Relations, ALL pushing for a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT, under THE NEW WORLD ORDER. Don't be deceived. Peace plan? SHAM!

    by: yari jan
    April 10, 2012 1:29 PM
    Syrian Free army use the camp as a base
    the government has full right to attack that place.
    Turkey is Terror cell there should be targeted.
    Turkey now should accept the crimes of its genocide which killed million Armenian peoples.

    by: Realist
    April 10, 2012 10:35 AM
    Hope didnt work in Rwanda , Zimbabwe and Libya, where countless people lost there lives. Hope certainly wont work in Syria and military intervention is the only option to stabilize the situation and convince the
    Syrian military that their continued violence with tanks is not an option.

    by: Darren Lovelace
    April 10, 2012 8:42 AM
    This UN plan has been designed to fail. When the UN has not succeeded to implement any form of a dialog with the Syrian regime, the regime will continue to implement its own agenda. “Total War” against humanity. The Free Syrian Army will continue to fight the clean battle. The people of Syria will exercise their right to self-preservation, within the guidelines that are acceptable under international law, they believe this is right. Free Syria will in time defeat this regime of evil.

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