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Surge in violence in Syria unacceptable, says UN-Arab League envoy

Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan.
UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
Joint UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan.

Surge in violence in Syria unacceptable, says UN-Arab League envoy

The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan today stressed the escalation of violence in Syria is “unacceptable”, and called on the Government to withdraw troops and cease all hostilities.

“I am shocked by recent reports of a surge in violence and atrocities in several towns and villages in Syria, resulting in alarming levels of casualties, refugees and displaced persons, in violation of assurances given to me,” Mr. Annan said in a statement.

On Monday, the Syrian Government had told Mr. Annan that it would complete the withdrawal of troops by 10 April, and yesterday Mr. Annan informed the General Assembly that, as agreed with the Syrian authorities, a UN team had arrived in the country to start technical preparations for the potential deployment of observers to monitor a cessation of armed violence, and the full implementation of his six-point peace plan.

“As we get closer to the Tuesday 10 April deadline, I remind the Syrian Government of the need for full implementation of its commitments and stress that the present escalation of violence is unacceptable,” Mr. Annan said.

“I once again call upon both the Government and the opposition to cease all forms of violence by 06:00 Damascus time Thursday, 12 April,” he added.

Mr. Annan said he was in constant contact with the Syrian Government and asked all States with influence on the parties “to use it now to ensure an end to the bloodshed and the beginning of dialogue.”

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the 10 April timeline, “is not an excuse for continued killing,” adding that this violates the consensus position of the Security Council for a peaceful political settlement to the crisis to be ushered in by the full implementation of Mr. Annan's six-point proposal.

Mr. Annan's proposal, which was submitted during his visit to Damascus last month, seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue.

The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since the protests in Syria – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.