Kofi Annan, the joint Arab League-UN special envoy for Syria, said Tuesday the peace plan he mediated for ending the ongoing violence was still alive despite continued violence there, and urged both the Syrian government and opposition to comply with the plan immediately.
The Syrian government as well as the opposition had earlier accepted Annan's six-point peace plan, which required the Syrian government to pull back its troops and heavy weaponry from towns and cities by April 10 and enforce a full ceasefire within the next 48 hours.
But violence continued Tuesday as Syrian government forces bombarded towns and the opposition refused to acquiesce to provide written assurances they would lay down their arms and stop receiving foreign assistance.
"I believe it's a bit too early to say that the plan has failed. The plan is still on the table and is a plan we are all fighting to implement," Annan told reporters in Turkey after visiting a refugee camp housing thousands of Syrians.
"It is a plan the [UN Security] Council has endorsed. It's a plan the Syrians have endorsed and from the comments made by the opposition, they are also prepared to go along with it if the government meets its commitments to pull the troops out. So I think the plan is very much alive," Annan said.
Annan stressed it was time the Syrian troops withdrew from populated areas, saying, "I had hoped that by now, we would have been much further ahead."
Citing the Syrian government and "our own intelligence" sources, Annan the Syrian troops had moved out of several populated areas. Nevertheless, he noted the troops were moving to "other areas which have not previously been targets".
He stressed there was still "rolling military action that we believe should stop."
Annan's visit to Turkey was aimed at getting Ankara's backing for the implementation of his peace plan. Although Turkey and Syria shared close ties until recently, relations between the two are at an all time low after Turkey's strong criticism of Syria's continued crackdown on protesters since the unrest began a year ago.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened to take unspecified action against Syria after cross-border firing by Syrian troops killed two people in a refugee camp inside Turkey on Monday.
Turkey has provided refuge to some 24,000 Syrian dissidents who fled the security crackdown in their home nation. Damascus alleges Syrian army deserters are using Turkey as a base for launching attacks on Syrian military installations.
According to the UN, more than 9,000 people have been killed by government forces since the unrest against President Bashar al-Assad's began a year ago. The regime, however, blames "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign mercenaries for the violence.
by RTT Staff Writer
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