Syrian Violence Kills 36; Arab Leaders Back Peace Plan

Arab leaders prepare to pose for a picture ahead of the opening session of the 23rd Arab League Summit, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 29, 2012.
Arab leaders prepare to pose for a picture ahead of the opening session of the 23rd Arab League Summit, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 29, 2012.

Violence across Syria killed at least 36 people - nearly half of them soldiers - as Arab leaders in Baghdad backed a peace plan during a summit focused on resolving the year-long anti-government revolt.

Syrian state media said Thursday that insurgents kidnapped an Air Force general near Damascus while gunmen shot and killed two army colonels in the northern city of Aleppo. The state news agency SANA blamed the actions on "armed terrorist groups," a reference to army defectors and rebels of the opposition Free Syrian Army.

Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan

  • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
  • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
  • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
  • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
  • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
  • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

Rights activists said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad assaulted opposition hubs in central Syria and the northern province of Idlib Thursday. They said rebels killed two soldiers in an ambush in Hama province.

Meanwhile, Arab leaders at a Baghdad summit endorsed the Syria peace plan drafted by international envoy Kofi Annan and called for its immediate and complete implementation.

The plan urges both sides to start a cease-fire and a dialogue but does not call for Mr. Assad to step down as part of a political transition.

Arab leaders previously had urged the Syrian president to hand power to a deputy to manage the transition, but now they appear to have backed away from that demand.

Mr. Assad said he will "spare no effort" to ensure the success of the Annan plan, but that it would depend on an armed groups stopping their "terrorist actions." He also said countries providing money and weapons to the Syrian opposition must stop immediately to enable Mr. Annan's mission to succeed.

In an apparent reference to Turkey, a former ally that now hosts the rebel FSA, he singled out "neighboring countries that harbor these groups and facilitate their terrorist actions."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called Mr. Assad's remarks "discouraging." He again urged the Syrian president to halt the violence immediately, saying government forces have done nothing to comply with the Annan peace plan in the three days since agreeing to it.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is "essential" for the Syrian president to put his commitments into immediate effect. Speaking to Arab leaders at the start of the Baghdad summit, Mr. Ban accused the Syrian government of failing to fulfill its responsibility to protect its own people.

Only nine leaders of the Arab League's 22 members traveled to Iraq for the summit. Mr. Assad was not invited. The absence of other leaders reflected ongoing divisions within the Arab League about how to end Syria's violence.

Meanwhile, Britain announced that it will provide $800,000 in non-lethal support to anti-Assad activists inside Syria to help them document government rights violations and develop skills to build a democratic society.

The United Nations says violence linked to Syria's crackdown on the revolt has killed more than 9,000 people.

Watch related video of Syrian violence

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

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: joke
March 29, 2012 5:40 PM
thi si sa joke, right ? Assad is a president? who killes its own people?

by: The Insider
March 29, 2012 5:04 PM
The Syrian refugee situation is putting serious financial strains on the Jordanian budget. It a matter of weeks, if not days Jordan will accept S.A.’s offer of financial assistance and allow help to reach the Syrian freedom fighters. Iran has given Assad 8 billion to stay in power. S.A. can match that and raise the stakes. S.A. and the Gulf has decided it is time for Assad to go. The clock is running out for Assad. Doubt Assad will be in Syria after the middle of 2013.

by: Assadian
March 29, 2012 3:39 PM
God, Syria and Bashar. The enemies will fail, and Syria and Bashar will prevail. seriously, has anyone every heard that dogs who bark can defeat a LION?

by: Kevin
March 29, 2012 1:39 PM
$800,000 million? where did you get that?

by: Sarah
March 29, 2012 11:20 AM
"Violence across Syria killed at least 22 people". VIOLENCE never kills anyone, ARMED FORCES do. This kind of language is used by journalists and media outlets who are afraid to take a side, thus clouding their reporting in murky language. Take a stand BBC!

by: PinkPanther 2/2
March 29, 2012 10:35 AM
oil and blood. It seems that The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qata can not trust on Iraqi security too. Qatar should be careful because it has gained many enemies .

by: PinkPanther 1/2
March 29, 2012 10:35 AM
Event Arab league leaders can not trust on the security in Iraq while they are attending this summit . It seems that W.Bush democracy is not working like it was planed . Have you seen how the rebels have been dealing with Africans and Gaddafi supporters ? Democratic future has been so clear while they are meeting under high security . They will leave killing each others while they are sucking your

by: Xaaji Dhagax
March 29, 2012 10:25 AM
High level meeting and high level of just talking tough. became a high level of CULTURE of Arab Governments of doing nothing. Bashar al-Assad needs to be stopped killing his own unarmed people. If the Arabs are sincere about helping the Syrian civilians... the "military intervention" is the only option left now for Arabs to do.
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