Annan says surge in Syria violence 'unacceptable'

Annan says surge in Syria violence 'unacceptable'

GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
Annan says surge in Syria violence unacceptable

United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan enters his car as he leaves on April 4, 2012 the United Nations offices in Geneva. AFP photo

The international mediator for Syria, Kofi Annan, said on Sunday he was shocked by the "unacceptable" surge in bloodshed there despite a UN deadline for a halt to all violence next week.

"I am shocked by recent reports of a surge in violence and atrocities in several towns and villages in Syria, resulting in alarming levels of casualties, refugees and displaced persons, in violation of assurances given to me," Annan said in a statement.

The UN Security Council on Thursday formally endorsed April 10 as the deadline for the Syrian army to withdraw from cities, with a complete halt to violence by all sides 48 hours later.

"I remind the Syrian government of the need for full implementation of its commitments and stress that the present escalation of violence is unacceptable," he said, calling on both the government and the opposition to cease all forms of violence by Thursday's deadline.

His comments came after one of the deadliest days in Syria since the regime launched a brutal crackdown on protests in March last year, with nearly 130 people killed on Saturday alone.

"This is a time when we must all urgently work towards a full cessation of hostilities, providing the space for humanitarian access and creating the conditions for a political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people," Annan said.

Annan, who is the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, said he was in "constant contact" with the Syrian government and he asked "all states with influence on the parties to use it now to ensure an end to the bloodshed and the beginning of dialogue".

Syria earlier Sunday said its forces would not withdraw from protest hubs without written guarantees from the rebels.

"To say that Syria will pull back its forces from towns on April 10 is inaccurate, Kofi Annan having not yet presented written guarantees on the acceptance by armed terrorist groups of a halt to all violence," the foreign ministry said.