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.

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 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.
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs