With Deadline Looming, Kofi Annan Pleads For Peace In Syria
From the AP:
Annan said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council, obtained by The Associated Press, that Syria has not pulled troops and heavy military equipment out of cities and towns — as the plan called for by Tuesday.
He said it is essential that the Syrian government "seize the opportunity to make a fundamental change of course" in its military operations and halt all violence by 6 a.m. local time on April 12.
Annan said opposition members have indicated they would observe a ceasefire "provided Syrian forces withdraw from cities."
Annan's plea comes after 12 people were killed early Tuesday by government forces. Other estimates add 29 civilians to that death toll.
Countering activists' reports that little has changed, Syrian officials have said they're following the terms of the ceasefire.
Again, from the AP:
Syria's foreign minister claimed that regime forces have begun withdrawing from some areas in compliance with Annan's plan, which requires Syrian forces to pull back from towns and villages on Tuesday and both sides to cease all hostilities by 6 a.m. Thursday.
…Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, expressed disappointment with the lack of compliance but insisted his plan has not failed and that Syria still has time to comply between now and Thursday. "The plan is still on the table and is a plan we are all fighting to implement," he told reporters in Hatay, Turkey, after touring a nearby camp of Syrians who fled to the area.
The envoy said violence must stop without preconditions.
"I had hoped that by now, we would have been much further ahead," he said. He included opposition fighters in his appeal for calm, but directed most of his criticism at the Syrian government, saying that it is "time the military go back to their barracks."
He said Syria gave him a list of areas from which troops purportedly withdrew, but added there are troop movements toward other regions and "rolling military action which we believe ... should stop."
Annan has asked that the U.N. Security Council discuss the truce later in the day Tuesday, though he stands by his cease-fire as the only path to peace.
According to reports, 29 civilians and 11 soldiers are dead after violence continued in Syria Tuesday. Both sides are supposed to lay down arms Thursday by 6 a.m., but how likely is it either will follow Kofi Annan's plan for peace? The envoy urged government officials to withdraw troops within 48 hours.