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UN: Syria Must Stop Assault by Tuesday

Lebanese civil defense ambulance, civilians gather at site where a cameraman was shot near Wadi Khaled, April 9, 2012.
Lebanese civil defense ambulance, civilians gather at site where a cameraman was shot near Wadi Khaled, April 9, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

The United Nations has reiterated its call for the Syrian government to comply with a Tuesday deadline for ceasing military action against civilian areas. But an escalation of violence fed withering hopes that the government would honor its commitments.

With just hours to go before the Syrian army is to withdraw from towns and cities and cease using heavy weapons as the first step of a six-point peace plan brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, that plan looked in jeopardy as government tanks and helicopters reportedly attacked several cities, including the flashpoint towns of Homs, Hama, and Dara'a.

Violence also spilled over Syria’s frontiers Monday, when a Lebanese cameraman was shot and killed on the Lebanese side of the border by gunfire coming from inside Syria. Meanwhile, officials in Turkey said Syrian forces fired across their border at a refugee camp for Syrians, injuring several people.

But despite the escalation, United Nations spokesman Martin Nesirky remained adamant that the violence must cease by Tuesday.

"That deadline has not shifted, nor has responsibility for the Syrian authorities to cease all military actions against the Syrian people, in line with the promises that they have made," he said. "They need to implement the promises and the commitments that they have entered into fully and unconditionally. That is something that has not changed and will not change - the deadline is as set out already."

On Sunday, Damascus said it wanted written guarantees that the armed opposition would stop fighting before it pulls back its military under the terms of the Annan plan. It also demanded written assurances from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the three countries Syria accuses of funding and arming the rebels.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said based on Monday’s violence, Washington is "not hopeful" Tuesday’s cessation of hostilities would go forward. But she did not give up hope on Kofi Annan’s efforts.

"[Annan] is a highly respected diplomat. He put forward something that was accepted by the entire international community - which was not the state that we were in before he joined this effort - and that was accepted by Assad," she said. "The fact that it has not worked yet does not change the fact that having the international community increasingly united and increasingly willing to pressure Assad will not [sic] eventually bring him down. He will go down.”

Annan is traveling this week to Turkey and Iran to continue his mediation efforts via countries that have influence with both the Syrian government and the opposition. He said Sunday that the escalation of violence is “unacceptable” and urged the government to implement its commitments as the April 10 deadline draws near.

Russia and China, which have until recently protected Syria from action in the U.N. Security Council, are also trying to keep the mediation efforts alive. Syria’s foreign minister is due in Moscow for talks Tuesday with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. China’s foreign ministry spokesman has urged the government and rebels to honor their truce commitments.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the army began cracking down on anti-government protesters 13 months ago.

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by: Loeber
April 09, 2012 10:35 PM
“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” (Except in an election year) President Obama “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” ( Except in an election year) Coward.

by: HUANG JUN
April 09, 2012 8:09 PM
To:Sandra Coleman: Those who are supporting and harbouring the terrorist rebels are enemies of Syria. The enemies of Syria are the enemies of Russia, China, Iran, Palestine, Cuba, North Korea and so on. They should be punished.

by: Sandra Coleman
April 09, 2012 4:31 PM
Any attack on a NATO member should be viewed as an attack on all of NATO. Syria has attacked Turkey and this should be considered an act of war. If NATO were to impose a no fly zone to protect Turkey from future attacks by Assad’s forces, it would be legally justifiable. It is time to end Assad’s terrorist state before they threaten other NATO nations with violence.

by: Mental Midget
April 09, 2012 1:41 PM
The the UN deadline is Tuesday? And when the Syrian government blows right through that, the UN/Arab League is going to do what?

Send a harshly worded letter to Asad?

Please.

by: Gregory Carlin
April 09, 2012 1:31 PM
The asymmetrical circumstances of the proposed cease-fire were without precedent, and for President Assad to be able to persuade regime soldiers to comply would require the talent of an Octavian. The expectation would appear to be beyond the Syrian President's gift. If the Syrian military must fight Saudi Arabia and Qatar by proxy, with Turkey perhaps showing up in person, it makes no sense to give the FSA a 48 hour holiday.

by: Simba Mizaati
April 09, 2012 1:31 PM
Or what? You'll go and wipe out that country's leaders too? Install another rebel faction? We all know that if Syria had any resources to offer this would have happened a long itme ago. That's what sad. Because of our illegal actions in Libya, we screwed ourselves on resolve and ability to help others. We were so quick to secure American interests that we can't do good elsewhere as a result. Way to go USA!

by: Noway
April 09, 2012 1:20 PM
Does anyone think that they are suddenly going to stop tomorrow? And if they don't what will the UN do? Stamp their feet and put out another strongly worded press release? What a joke.

by: Ramona
April 09, 2012 1:09 PM
Assad isn't honoring his commitment to cease military action against civilians? WOW - that's a BIG SURPRISE!!!

by: Fred
April 09, 2012 1:01 PM
Yea, okay. The U.N DEMANDS Syria to stop! Syria must be shaking in their boots. The U.N is weak and so it this pathetic president. We should have turned the U.N building into a low income housing project a long time ago. At least that would have put the property to good use!

by: robert petitpas
April 09, 2012 12:59 PM
i thank we should stay out of syria let syria settle it.
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