Annan eyes Iran help for turmoil

Annan eyes Iran help for turmoil

Annan eyes Iran help for turmoil

UN envoy Kofi Annan says he hopes Tehran will be part of the solution for Syria. AFP photo

Iran should be part of the solution to Syria’s crisis, envoy Kofi Annan said June 8 while calling for “additional pressure” against Damascus during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington.

The suggestion, however, was quickly rebuffed by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who said Iran was a “spoiler” and “part of the problem in Syria.”

Annan, the author of a fledgling peace plan on Syria, nonetheless called yesterday for “additional pressure” in the United States. Opening a meeting with Clinton, Annan said he would discuss “how we can put additional pressure on the government and the parties to get the plan implemented.”

Annan said “everyone is looking for a solution” but acknowledged doubts about the deal he brokered, which called for a cease-fire and dialogue to end violence two months ago.

Annan told the U.N. Security Council on June 7 that he was in discussions to set up an international contact group on the Syria crisis.

France also backs the bid for a new contract group, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, but diplomats added it is also opposed to inviting Iran.

The Syria crisis will quickly “spiral out of control” unless substantial pressure is put on President Bashar al-Assad, Annan also said.

On June 7, U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon said Syria was heading toward an “imminent” civil war and highlighted growing attacks on U.N. observers as a problem.

Annan called for international unity after activists said at least 100 people were killed in an assault on the Sunni village of al-Qubair, a remote farming area near Hama, the latest reported massacre blamed on pro-al-Assad forces.

U.N. observers entered the massacre site in al-Qubair, an activist said June 8, a day after they were blocked from reaching it by troops.

On the ground, Syrian troops heavily shelled a rebel-held neighborhood in the flashpoint central city of Homs on June 8, with the military appearing ready to storm the district, activists said.

In Homs, regime troops were trying to advance into the opposition-held district of Khaldiyeh from three sides and were battling with armed rebels trying to stop them, said Tarek Badrakhan, an activist based in the neighborhood.

On June 8, troops fired tear gas and live ammunition in several locations across the country in an attempt to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters, activists said, including the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, the southern region of Daraa and the suburbs of the capital, Damascus. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Syria’s state-run media said armed “terrorist groups” attacked military units charged with protecting the al-Omar oil field of the al-Furat Oil Company in the oil-rich province of Deir ez-Zor. The official news agency SANA said several gunmen were killed in the attack.

SANA also said a car bomb in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya killed three policemen, while another explosion in Idlib killed two soldiers and three civilians.

Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

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