Ban Ki Moon: Syrian forces' attacks violate agreement
07/04/2012 - 10:23:01
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said increased attacks by government forces on Syrian cities violates the Security Council's demand for an end to hostilities.
He said President Bashar Al Assad's agreement to withdraw all troops from cities by next Tuesday is not an excuse for continued killing in the meantime.
He said he was gravely concerned at the humanitarian situation in Syria as several thousands of refugees continue to cross over the Turkish border.
President Assad has accepted the ceasefire deadline brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for his forces to pull out of towns and cities by Tuesday and for both government and rebels to lay down their arms by 6am local time on Thursday.
But while some troops were redeployed, others were kept near rebel-occupied towns, while arrests, sweeps, and the artillery bombardment of opposition strongholds continued, a statement from US ambassador Robert Ford said.
“This is not the reduction in offensive Syrian government security operations that all agree must be the first step for the Annan initiative to succeed,” the statement said.
Western leaders along with the Syrian opposition have cast doubt on Assad’s intentions, suggesting he is playing for time and is not serious about the plan, which aims to pave the way for talks between the regime and the opposition on a political solution.
Syria denies that the revolt is a popular uprising at all, saying instead that it is facing a foreign conspiracy by armed gangs and terrorists who want to destroy the country.
The Syrian government says it has begun to withdraw forces ahead of the ceasefire but activists deny this and suggest Assad is rushing to stamp out as much of the year-old uprising as he can before next week’s deadline.
According to the satellite images, Mr Ford said there were some areas such as Dael in the southern province of Daraa, and Taftanaz in the northern Idlib province, where some forces were removed following several days of assaults against the towns.
In Taftanaz, the Syrian government simply moved some armoured vehicles out and into the nearby town of Zirdana.
“In some other places, such as Homs and Zabadani, the Syrian government kept artillery units near residential areas where they could again fire upon them,” Mr Ford said. The central city of Homs has been a focal point of the uprising and Zabadani is a rebel stronghold west of Damascus on the Syrian border.
Mr Ford urged Assad to allow in a UN monitoring force and to have full access throughout Syria to investigate the regime’s compliance.
“The regime and the Syrian people should know that we are watching. The regime cannot hide the truth,” he said.
Yesterday, a small UN advance team headed by a Norwegian major general, Robert Mood, met with Syria’s deputy foreign minister to discuss the ceasefire plans. Maj Gen Mood is to set up a UN monitoring force with 200 to 250 members if the peace plan succeeds.
The UN estimates that a year of violence has claimed more than 9,000 lives. In letters sent to the UN yesterday, the Syrian government said 2,088 members of the military and 478 policemen were killed. The regime has rarely acknowledged deaths of protesters.
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