News

UN's Annan Leaves Syria Empty-Handed

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has left Damascus without securing a deal to end Syria's nearly yearlong conflict. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's troops continued to pound opposition areas, clashing with rebels throughout the country.

The former U.N. secretary-general said Sunday he left several proposals with Syrian officials and that he remains "optimistic" about the possibility of a resolution after a second round of talks with Mr. Assad. But he said ending the violence will be "tough."

Annan said he called for an immediate halt to the killings and that he urged the Syrian government to "embrace change and reform" as part of a political solution to its deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising. He appealed to Mr. Assad to heed an old African proverb that says: "You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail."

Syrian state media said Mr. Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country. Identical comments were reported after the two met Saturday.

Syria's main exiled opposition group also rejected talks with the government. The Syrian National Council said negotiations can never take place between a "victim and torturer," and it demanded that Mr. Assad and his aides step down before a dialogue can begin.

Annan flew to Qatar Sunday to meet that country's emir, a leading critic of the Syrian government who has called for arming the rebels.

As their talks took place in Damascus, Syria's military continued an offensive on rebel strongholds in the north. Activists reported that several areas were attacked, including in and around Idlib, Hama and Homs, as well as Daraa in the south.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting Sunday killed at least 25 civilians and five soldiers. Activists said at least 90 people were killed in nationwide unrest a day earlier, many of them in Idlib.

Also Sunday, Syria's state news agency said gunmen killed local boxing champion Gheyath Tayfour in the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition fighters associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for some of the assassinations that have become more frequent in the city, including those of prominent businessmen they say support Mr. Assad.

Photo Gallery

International rifts have paralyzed action on Syria. Russia and China blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Syrian crisis in recent months, saying they were biased against the Assad government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in New York Monday when the Security Council holds a special meeting on Arab revolts, with Syria likely to be in focus. Washington is pressing the Council to adopt a resolution calling on Syria to let aid workers reach civilians affected by the government crackdown.

The United Nations says Mr. Assad's forces have killed more than 7,500 people since the crackdown on protesters and insurgents began last year. Authorities say rebels have killed 2,000 soldiers during that time.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Power
March 13, 2012 3:10 AM
Control of the Army enables absolute power over the civillian population. Old African proverbs are of little meaning or consequence
and the loss of life is indicative of this. Reform is not on the agenda.

by: Godwin
March 12, 2012 1:31 AM
What did he intend to achieve before? With the support of Russia, China and Iran, Assad is on top of the world. Living in the colony of vampires which the Middle East is, supported by the blood thirsty trio of Russia, China and Iran - all of which know no other way to suppress decent except by brutal force, Annan's trip was mission impossible. But the trio provide the world an alternative to true democracy - LETHAL DEMOCRACY based on survival of the fittest.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs