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UN Envoy Warns Against Arming Syrian Rebels

Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, attends a news conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al Araby at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, March 8, 2012
Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, attends a news conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al Araby at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, March 8, 2012

The U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria, Kofi Annan, says arming Syrian rebel soldiers "will make this situation worse." Meanwhile, a deputy Syrian oil minister resigned after 33 years of government service, saying he didn't want to end his career "abetting the crimes of the regime.”

Former U.N. Secretary-General Annan began a fresh diplomatic push Thursday to seek a solution to the year-old conflict in Syria with a stop in Cairo. Annan, who is due to visit Syria Saturday, said his mission is to put an end to the violence.

"My only agenda in taking on this assignment is the welfare of the Syrian people. They are brave, ancient people and they deserve better. The killing has to stop and we need to find a way of reforming... in putting in the appropriate reforms and moving forward," he said.

Annan warns the international community against arming Syrian rebels, pointing to last year's experience of arming the Libyan opposition.

"I hope that no one is thinking very seriously of using force in this situation. I believe any further militarization will make this situation worse. We have to be careful that we don't introduce a medicine that's worse than the disease, and we don't have to go very far in the region to find an example of what I'm talking about," said Annan.

The Arab League is due to meet Saturday in Cairo to discuss what action can be taken on Syria. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby does not see a military solution to the conflict.

He said the Arab League is trying to find a solution with the Syrian government.

Speaking on a visit to Syria, U.N. humanitarian coordinator Valerie Amos said she was “devastated” by what she saw in the district of Baba Amr in Homs, overrun by government forces last week after a nearly month-long bombardment. Syrian state television reports showed Amos meeting with the country's education and health ministers, who said infrastructure had been “destroyed by armed gangs.”

Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti
Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti

An opposition video showed the Hekmeh hospital in the Homs' district of Insha'at with an operating room badly damaged, allegedly by government shelling.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, said he doubts much will come out of the international diplomacy. He said Damascus has decided to pursue a military course against an anti-government uprising.

He said the Syrian regime is trying to copy what Russia did in the Chechen capital of Grozny in the 1990s by destroying Baba Amr, but the rest of Homs appears to be holding out. He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pursing a military and a political solution to the conflict. But the political solution, he said, is mostly a mirage.

Abou Diab questions whether Syria's allies Russia and China will accept a solution that would preserve the Syrian government, but without Assad in power.

In an apparent blow to Assad's cause, Syria's deputy oil minister resigned his post to join the opposition, saying the government has inflicted a "year of sorrow and sadness" on the Syrian people.

In a video posted on YouTube, deputy Syrian oil minister Abdo Husameddine urged his colleagues to abandon what he called a "sinking ship."

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