Annan Calls for UN Action on Syria

Posted March 16th, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan called on U.N. Security Council members Friday to break their deadlock on pressuring Syria over its deadly crackdown on dissent.

In a briefing from Geneva, the former U.N. chief said he is sending a team to Damascus next week to discuss a plan to deploy international monitors. Diplomats say Annan made the comments in a video briefing to the Council on Friday, less than a week after meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Western diplomats have said they hope Annan's mediation will accelerate efforts to pass a U.N. resolution condemning Mr. Assad's bloody crackdown on dissent. Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions condemning Syria.

Syrian state media released a statement on Friday ahead of Annan's briefing, saying the government has pledged cooperation with the envoy in finding a “political solution” to the crisis. In the statement, the Foreign Ministry again blamed terrorists and foreign interference for much of the deadly violence.

Annan met with Mr. Assad on Saturday and Sunday. The envoy outlined proposals to end the fighting, provide humanitarian aid, and begin political dialogue.


Anti-government protests resumed in Syria on Friday, a day after the government marked the first anniversary of the uprising with huge support rallies.

Activists say thousands of protesters called for international military intervention as they demonstrated in several cities including Alleppo and Homs. There were also scattered reports of gunfire.

Rebel fighters have been in retreat throughout Syria and a movement of opposition activists has been fragmented with dissent. But Western governments have been reluctant to arm the Syrian opposition out of fear the situation could be further enflamed.

Turkey on Friday urged its citizens to leave Syria due to “serious security risks.” Also, the Turkish government is considering setting up a buffer zone along its border with Syria.

Earlier Friday, the Gulf Cooperation Council announced its six member states would close their Damascus embassies in protest of the continued violence. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had already withdrawn their ambassadors to Syria last month.

On Thursday, U.N. chief Ban ki-Moon said “well over 8,000 people” have died in the 12 months of protests. His spokesman blamed the violence on the Syrian government's decision “to choose violent repression over peaceful political dialogue.”