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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: sondrotsy from: france
May 29, 2012 6:28 AM
when i ve heard that children are died , i was sad .i believe in democracy and in syria .i expect both parties can solve this crisis


by: DAVID LULASA from: tambua location
May 29, 2012 5:09 AM
assad just like other wicked leaders,never want to cooperate with the people they are picked from to lead the country/countries.if such people were not this wicked,they would be cooperating with their own human beings..its time assad and his army were just chased away from syrian government offices,because its their addiction to power that is making them think that they are the only worthy guys to maintain grip on power.

LULASA
tv(TAMBUA VILLAGE,GIMARAKWA)hamisi,vihiga,kenya.

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
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 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.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


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