Syria accepts Annan plan to end strife
Syria’s al-Assad (C) shakes hands with a local woman in crisis-hit Bab-ı Amr. AFP photoSyria has accepted a proposal crafted by Kofi Annan that aims to end bloodshed in the strife-hit country, according to reports, but the U.N.-Arab League envoy has cautioned that only the implementation of the measures will produce peace.
Annan views Syria’s acceptance of the six-point plan “as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” Annan spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement.
China also backed Annan’s plan, which also calls for a daily two-hour humanitarian cease-fire and access to all areas affected by the fighting in Syria, Annan told reporters after meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing yesterday.
Annan said he received a similar commitment from Russia over the weekend. “They have offered me their full support,” Annan said after meeting with Wen. Annan has written to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asking Damascus to “put [the plan’s] commitments into immediate effect” and urged the release of people detained over the past year of the uprising, according to Fawzi.
“Mr. Annan has stressed that implementation will be key” for the Syrians, the region and the international community as a whole, Fawzi said. “As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Mr. Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure the implementation of the plan at all levels.”
Fighting enters Lebanon
At least 13 people were killed across the country in clashes between regime forces and rebel troops, including near the border with Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Officials said the clashes spilled over into Lebanon as Syrian troops chasing rebels made a brief incursion into a sparsely populated area of northern Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Yakın Ertürk, one of three investigators on a U.N. panel documenting crimes against humanity in Syria, has resigned in protest at the Syrian government’s refusal to allow them into certain areas of the country. “The commission cannot do comprehensive work and investigate [certain] areas because of [a lack of] access, so I decided not to continue,” Ertürk said.
Syrian state television SANA reported that al-Assad had inspected troops stationed in the flashpoint Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs city, site of a fierce battle between regime forces and rebel troops that has left hundreds dead.
Damascus said in a complaint to the U.N. on March 26 that armed “terrorist groups” in Syria had been receiving weapons from supporters in Lebanon and other states along the Syrian border. Meanwhile, rebels have been accused of using children as fighters in violation of international conventions banning the recruitment of child soldiers, Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, said March 26 in response to a question about Syria’s rebels.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday said it was “short-sighted” to think that the crisis in Syria would be solved if al-Assad agreed to Western calls to step down.
“To think that Assad’s departure would mean the removal of all the problems is a very short-sighted position and everyone understands that if this happened the conflict would most likely continue,” ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Medvedev as telling Russian reporters at a summit in Seoul. “The Syrian people, and not respected leaders of other states, make the decisions about Syria’s fate.”
Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.