Annan says Syria agrees to April 10 peace deadline
UNITED NATIONS KOFI Annan asked the UN Security Council to back an April 10 deadline for partial implementation of his peace plan for Syria, telling its members that Syria had agreed to the date, diplomats said on Monday.
The UN-Arab League peace envoy told the council behind closed doors that troops would stop entering Syrian towns and that there would be a withdrawal of heavy weapons and the start of a troop pullout.
A full ceasefire would be have to be in place by April 12 or 48 hours after the agreed date, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, quoted him as telling the 15-nation council.
Annan met Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus on March 10 and presented him with a sixpoint plan calling for the military pullout. His spokesman said one week ago that Assad had accepted the terms, adding that the “the deadline is now”.
One diplomat said Annan confirmed to council members that there had been “no progress on the ground” towards halting the violence, which continues with daily reports of army shelling and shooting, and clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army.
“Today doesn’t feel much different than yesterday or the day before, or the day before that,” opposition activist Waleed Fares said from inside Homs. “Shelling and killing.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britishbased activist operation which collates reports from around Syria, reported 70 people killed on Sunday, including 12 civilian victims of shelling and sniper fire in Homs. 35 people were killed on Monday, SOHR said, including eight soldiers and nine rebels.
Ten civilians were killed on Monday in the central province of Homs. In Syria’s second city of Aleppo, a bomb blast at a kiosk killed the owner, an Assad supporter, it said. At least five people were killed and eight wounded in army bombardments of villages in northern Idlib province, which borders Turkey.
Turkish officials said refugees were crossing the border at a rate of around 400 a day. Over 40,000 Syrians have taken refuge in neighbouring countries since the unrest broke out a year ago, according to UN figures.
Despite the lack of progress, Annan urged council members to “begin consideration of deployment of an observer mission with a broad and flexible mandate,” a diplomat said.