News / Middle East

Envoy Annan Calls for 'Bold Steps Now' in Syria

Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, center left, Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. observer team in Syria, 3rd left, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center right, and Syrian FM Walid Moallem, 2nd right in Damascus, Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
Special Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, center left, Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. observer team in Syria, 3rd left, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center right, and Syrian FM Walid Moallem, 2nd right in Damascus, Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
Carla Babb
With deaths mounting and the West expelling Syrian diplomats, international peace envoy Kofi Annan told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the U.N.'s six-point peace plan needs efforts to propel it forward.

"I appealed to him for bold steps now - not tomorrow, now - to create momentum for the implementation of the plan," the U.N. special envoy told reporters in Damascus Tuesday.

Annan also said he conveyed to Assad the international community's concern about the bloodshed, including the massacre in Houla on May 25 of more than 100 men, women and children.  He said the Syrian president also condemned the killings.

Syria Diplomats ExpelledSyria Diplomats Expelled
x
Syria Diplomats Expelled
Syria Diplomats Expelled
The U.N. reported Tuesday that its monitors found fewer than 20 of those killed in Houla were struck by artillery and tank fire. It said witnesses told the observers that most victims were killed in their homes in two waves of summary executions by pro-government militiamen.

"Part of the victims had been killed by artillery shells. Now that points ever so clearly to the responsibility of the government," U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told reporters in New York.  "Only the government has heavy weapons, has tanks, has howitzers."

Syrian Diplomats Expelled

Nine nations have ordered Syrian diplomats to leave in protest of the Houla massacre.

Expulsion announcements came from France, the United States, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Canada.

"We are confident that our clear and firm message does not fall on deaf ears in Damascus," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
 
The United States has given Syria's top diplomat in Washington, charge d'affaires Zuheir Jabbour, 72 hours to leave the country.  

"We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its U.N. Security Council obligations."

Syrian Government Denial

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad said Tuesday after meeting Mr. Annan that Syria has not committed any cease-fire violations.

"We offered all that was necessary for the members of the [U.N.] mission to accomplish their job without any obstacles," he said. "The most important thing to be mentioned is that Syria, during this time, has not committed a single violation of Annan's plan nor the preliminary understanding signed between Syria and the United Nations."

The Syrian government denies any role in the Houla killings and blames them on "armed terrorists" whom it accuses of driving a 15-month revolt against Assad.  

U.N. observers continue to investigate last week's massacre. U.N. spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said that U.N. observers have remained in Houla since Saturday and have been talking to residents.

One U.N. observer, who met with survivors of the Houla killings, expressed frustration.

"It's been quite a difficult meeting because people are very emotional. There's a lot of things that are going out here and everybody has a story to tell of some suffering." the observer said.

Timor Goksel, a former spokesman for U.N. peacekeeping troops in Lebanon, said the massacre could lead to criticism of U.N. observers in Syria trying to stop the violence.

"It's a very nasty event and it certainly makes a mockery of Annan's plan," Goksel said. "But, there is no plan B on the table, still. Nobody else has an option. The military intervention is not an option. So, if there is no other plan, you have to go with something, and you go with this. It was a well-meaning initiative, but it didn't work."

On Tuesday, Syrian government forces continued to attack a number of towns and cities, despite the flurry of diplomatic outrage. Syrian rights activists said at least 19 people were killed across Syria in new attacks related to the uprising.

Annan mediated a cease-fire between government and rebel forces last month, but it has failed to hold.

The special envoy also met with Syrian tribal leaders in Damascus Tuesday. Sheik Walid al-Sahu of the al-Roqeibat tribe told reporters that Syria is becoming more unstable.

"The implementation of his [Kofi Annan's] plan does not exist on the ground. We are witnessing more explosions and kidnappings," al-Sahu said.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested Tuesday that some countries could end up disrupting the implementation of Annan's peace plan.

"Certain countries, as if the Security Council hadn't made a request for such an investigation, are starting to use these events, the events of May 25, as a pretext for putting forward demands for the necessity of taking military action, trying to put pressure on the U.N. Security Council," Lavrov said.

The United Nations says more than 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the government began its crackdown on dissent in March 2011.

VOA’s Edward Yeranian contributed to this story from Cairo, Scott Stearns from Washington, and Larry Freund from the United Nations.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Anonymous
May 30, 2012 2:58 PM
Massacres, Executions, Mayhem, Murder, Arrests, genocide....That is Syria under Assad......Kofi Annan has clearly lost patience with this tyrant! FREE SYRIA NOW!!


by: Faraja Amri Sa-rang Lacey from: DR Congo, Goma
May 30, 2012 8:58 AM
The story is so sad to be read and if reporters are collecting these talkative facts, there is an area of thinking that the UN and the whole International Community have been eye witnesses.
So, why do they leave this Assad to kill these innocent people? Don't these people have the same life as Libyans? What's the difference between Assad and Kadhafi? Who killed more? Why this baneful silence? Don't widely show ur winged side, U UN and the fallacious International Community.


by: Abduul Rachman from: Sopamena
May 30, 2012 4:00 AM
I would like to say thanks to the U.N. observers who has continue to investigate last week's massacre. And had remained in Houla since Saturday and have been talking to the residents.But please put a strong pressure on them otherwise many civilian will killed again. Lets stop it immediately man, that your sister and brothers


by: Julie from: US
May 29, 2012 6:36 PM
Wolf group always works together. All other wolves including Europian Union countries, Australia and Canada allways listen to their leader --- wolf leader. I remember they have worked together for many many years, one hundred, one and a half hundreds or two hundreds years ago. Australia and Canada, please be independent. Think by your own brain. Don't always be a follower.


by: Anonymous
May 29, 2012 1:24 PM
Promoting terror on your very own people is a Terrorist Action. There is one main Terrorist in Syria, and that is Bashar Assad. He deserves the most severe punishment there is.


by: Aziza Shah
May 29, 2012 1:09 PM
The west needs to show the courage to expel Bashar Assad, his family, his supporters and the Ba’ath Party out of Syria. The entire world knows that the Assad dictatorship is evil incarnate on earth. These monsters are evil on the scale of the murderous Nazi killers. They no longer just torture children; Assad is now having children and babies murdered in broad daylight. The next child that is murdered in Syria will not be Assad’s fault; it will be the fault of western governments and NATO for standing by silently allowing this brutality to occur.


by: Cha Cha Cohen
May 29, 2012 12:59 PM
Most victims were murdered point blanc range which is not possible with Syrian army but by the rebel with shot guns! The opposition has no intention to sit on the table for a democratic transfer!The opposition should be tried for arson and treason as any other country would do!Asad has his own majority support of the people and has right to stand for a democratic election.


by: tularockstar from: USA
May 29, 2012 12:30 PM
Annan's visit is a completely waste of time! The UN has lost its luster a decade ago, and is inept today, to do anything against Syria. Too many backdoor deals are going on between Obama, Putin and Assad! There will be more civilian deaths before all said and done.


by: Michael from: USA
May 29, 2012 10:21 AM
Since the Syrian government is dealing with the lowest common denominator (violence), they lose convincingness in the traditional association between Country, Citizen, and Shii Faith


by: sam from: Accra
May 29, 2012 7:06 AM
At least Russia accuses both sides for abuses whiles others choose to accuse only one side and BBC publishes pictures from Iraq as war crimes in Syria.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid