Syria will respect UN ceasefire plan - envoy Kofi Annan

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  1. Son of Govinda

    Son of Govinda Regular Member

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    BBC News - Syria will respect UN ceasefire plan - envoy Kofi Annan

    The UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, has said he has received assurances from Damascus that it will respect his ceasefire plan.

    Speaking during a visit to Iran, Mr Annan said there could be "improved conditions on the ground" by Thursday morning, if all sides did so.

    On Tuesday, the government failed to withdraw its troops and weaponry from population centres as it had agreed.

    There was also no let-up in violence, with at least 100 people reported dead.

    Activists said there was fresh shelling in Homs and military activity in other cities overnight and into Wednesday morning.

    There were also reports of shooting across the border with Turkey, with bullets landing in a refugee camp.

    Mr Annan said he had received "further clarifications" from the government of President Bashar al-Assad on how they intended to suspend hostilities and respect the six-point peace plan.

    "We have been in touch with them and have had positive answers from them and have also approached governments with influence to ensure that all parties respect the ceasefire.

    "If everyone respects it I think by six in the morning on Thursday we shall see improved conditions on the ground," he said.

    But he said Damascus was still seeking assurances that opposition forces would also stop the fighting "so that we could see cessation of all the violence".

    Mr Annan was speaking in Tehran after talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, during which he appealed for Iran's support.

    He said the region "cannot afford another shock" and warned that any miscalculation or mistakes in Syria could have "unimaginable consequences".

    Iran has been a key ally of Damascus, but Mr Salehi said that "as long as the peace plan continues its approach, Iran will support it".

    Border shootings
    Under the Annan peace plan, sponsored by the UN and the Arab League, Syrian troops were to have completed their withdrawal from population centres and stopped the use of heavy weaponry by Tuesday morning, ahead of a full ceasefire coming into place on Thursday morning.

    Syria initially agreed to the deal, but then on Sunday said it wanted written assurances from the opposition forces it is fighting, along with a promise from foreign states that they would not support the rebels.

    The main opposition force the Free Syrian Army also backed the plan, but said it would not stop fighting until the government did.

    Damascus also insisted that UN observers must arrive in Syria for the ceasefire to begin, reversing - and effectively rejecting - the peace plan timeline.

    Activists groups say at least 100 people were killed in fighting in Syria on Tuesday. One group, the Local Co-Ordination Committees (LCC) said heavy warplanes flew over Damascus suburbs and the town of Latakia on Wednesday. Shelling was reported in several districts of Homs province, and tanks on the streets of Ghosom and Maarba, in southern Deraa province.

    Restrictions on reporting in Syria mean such reports are impossible to independently verify.

    Meanwhile, Turkish media reported that shots fired by Syrian troops had hit a refugee camp just across the border.

    It follows the shooting on Monday of four Syrians and two Turkish citizens in a camp, incidents Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said were a "clear violation" of the border.

    Turkey, which has become a fierce critic of the Assad regime, is now hosting some 24,000 refugees from Syria. The numbers have risen steeply in the past week.

    The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Mr Assad's rule which began more than a year ago.

    In February, the Syrian government put the death toll at 3,838 - 2,493 civilians and 1,345 security forces personnel.
     
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