Envoy Says Syria Cease-fire Firm for April 12

Posted April 5th, 2012 at 12:20 pm (UTC-5)
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“Clearly, the violence is still continuing. Alarming levels of casualties and other abuses continue to be reported daily. Military operations in civilian population centers have not stopped.”

The U.N. Security Council called on Damascus to “implement urgently and visibly” its commitments, including compliance with an April 10 deadline to pull its forces out of urban areas.

A U.N. peacekeeping planning team arrived in Syria to begin laying the groundwork for a potential monitoring mission for peacekeepers. The team, led by Norwegian military chief Robert Mood, was in Damascus on Thursday.

Rights activists reported shelling and heavy gunfire Thursday in the Damascus suburb of Douma as well as in Idlib province and the central Homs region. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA that 43 people were killed on Thursday, most of them civilians.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly that the Syrian people had been “victims of horrendous abuse.” He said “cities, towns and villages had been turned into war zones.”

Mr. Annan said Syria had begun withdrawing troops from three areas of the country as part of the negotiated cease-fire plan.

Turkey's disaster management agency said Thursday more than 1,600 Syrians fled into Turkey in the past two days.

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Mr. Assad began a year ago.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Syria had agreed to allow the relief organization to expand its humanitarian mission in the country.

The Red Cross says the agreement includes a plan to “pause” fighting in affected areas so that it can begin a humanitarian mission. The agreement resulted from talks between Syrian officials and Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger.