ISSN 2330-717X

Annan To Brief Security Council On Syria

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(RFE/RL) — The international envoy for Syria Kofi Annan is due to brief the UN Security Council later today on whether Damascus is moving toward implementing his peace plan.

Damascus has accepted the plan — which includes a cease-fire, troop withdrawal from cities and access for humanitarian aid — but has yet to carry it out.

On the eve of the UN Security Council briefing, the so-called “Friends of Syria” called on Annan to set a “timetable” for next steps should Assad renege on his pledge.

After the meeting in Istanbul, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “Assad must go.”

“So today we called for an immediate end to the killing in Syria and we urged the joint special envoy Kofi Annan to set a timetable for next steps. The world will not waiver. Assad must go and the Syrian people must be free to choose their own path forward,” Clinton told a press conference.

Clinton said Washington would supply the Syrian opposition with communications equipment to connect with the outside world and evade attacks from government forces.

The more than 80 nations represented at Istanbul also recognized the opposition Syrian National Council as a legitimate representative of all Syrians.

Analysts say some Arab states like Saudi Arabia repeated calls to arm the Syrian opposition although there was no agreement on this.

On the sidelines of the conference, the Syrian National Council announced it would provide funds in the form of wages to the rebels fighting Assad’s forces.

The rebel Free Syrian Army announced March 31 that it would stop firing if Assad pulled heavy weaponry out of city areas.

Damascus, however, said troops and tanks would stay until life returned to normal in rebelling cities. Syria’s government also announced March 31 that it had defeated the insurgency.

Analysts say if Annan notes progress has been made on his plan, then work could start on a resolution to send up to 250 UN observers to Syria to monitor a cease-fire.

If Annan reports little progress, analysts say, the next step could be a return to the UN Security Council for a resolution against the Assad regime.

On the ground inside Syria the violence continues. Activists say some 70 people were killed in Syria on April 1, including 12 civilians inside the rebel stronghold of Homs.

Nineteen soldiers and 12 rebel gunmen were reported killed in clashes.

RFE RL

RFE RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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