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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid