Syrian government accepts Annan peace plan


Syria's Bashar al-Assad continues to make public appearances among supporters

Syria's government has agreed to accept the peace plan put forward by the United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, his spokesman has said.

Ahmed Fawzi said Mr Annan considered it an "important initial step" to help bring an end to the violence, but added that implementation was key.

However, the main opposition coalition is sceptical and has questioned whether the government will honour its pledge.

Meanwhile, the UN said more than 9,000 people had been killed in the uprising.

The acceptance of the plan was hailed as an "important step" by US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Start Quote

A peaceful transition means that the regime needs to be changed”

End Quote Basma Kodmani Syrian National Council

However, she said Mr Assad must implement the plan by "silencing his guns and allowing humanitarian aid to get in".

'Critical juncture'

Speaking after it was announced that the Syrian government had accepted his peace plan, Mr Annan thanked countries that have supported his attempts to mediate in the conflict.

He is currently in Beijing for talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Mr Wen offered his support for Mr Annan's strategy, saying the situation was "at a critical juncture", and "your mediation efforts will lead to progress".

At the weekend Russia also offered its support. The two countries had been heavily criticised after vetoing two UN Security Council resolutions condemning the violence.

Mr Annan's six-point plan calls for Mr Assad's government to pull troops and heavy weapons out of population centres, and for all parties to allow for a daily two-hour pause to the fighting in order for humanitarian aid to reach affected areas. The plan also requests that the authorities release those detained in the uprising.

However, it does not impose any deadline for Mr Assad, or call for him to leave power.

Annan's six-point peace plan

1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

The main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is seeking to agree a "national pact" of common objectives with other opposition groups in Istanbul, gave a lukewarm response to the plan.

"A peaceful transition means that the regime needs to be changed. And that starts with the removal of the head of the state," Basma Kodmani, a spokeswoman for the SNC, told the Reuters news agency.

"Mr Annan's initiative for us should lead to developments of clear terms of reference for negotiation on the modalities of change. Not on whether the change should happen or not."

Mr Annan has written to Mr Assad urging him to put his commitments into immediate effect.

the BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says the agreement is not as strongly worded as earlier UN resolutions, but it can be regarded as more pressure on Mr Assad and his government, which he seems to have decided that he cannot ignore.

However, implementing the plan is another matter, our correspondent adds.

In other developments on Tuesday:

  • Clashes between Syrian security forces and armed rebels have spilled across the border with Lebanon, witnesses and Lebanese security officials say
  • Syria's opposition groups are meeting in Istanbul to try to achieve a more united front
  • President Bashar al-Assad has visited the former rebel stronghold Baba Amr in Homs, which troops entered earlier this month after nearly four weeks of bombardment left an estimated 700 people dead
  • Yakin Erturk has resigned from a UN commission of inquiry looking into alleged human rights abuses, citing lack of access to Syria
  • Turkish Airlines is stopping flights to Syria after Turkey's closure of its embassy in Damascus.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    What is the purpose of this peace plan, it is like other peace plans of the past.

    All peace plans are giving more time to Assad to carry on with his killings.

    After killing more then 9000 innocent people, without any regime change and a criminal trial of Assad nothing can be achieved.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    I’ll believe it when I see it. What changed his mind – run out of ammo or cities to pick on? The ICC will still be very interested – nice comfy chair waiting for him and his co-murderers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Well, thats all right then. Next discussion please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Implementation and verification may in fact turn out to be the easy part. Sustaining peace will be a lot harder as memories last longer than peace plans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    How can you trust a leader such as this? Whilst talking and agreeing with Konan Afi he carrries on murdering his own people and destroying their homes. As soon as he and his regime is toppled the better. Woe betide his wife if she comes to the UK to shop, there will be many paople who will stop her from doing that, possibly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    The Syrian political crisis is internal. The international concerns on humanitarian ground is concievable. Annan.s peace mission is on halt without China or Russia. Russia China restrain is based on the Libyian experiance. Libyan mandate was to cease hostility and achieve peace not kill Gaddafi. Foreign intervention is no solution to internal conflict anyware. Remember Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    The choice of Turkey seems to be crucial. If I well remember, Turkish president had an ambiguous attitude with respect to Assad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    HA. Of course, as soon as he can't buy his watches, and his wife can't buy her jewelry and shoes, THEN they agree. A sickening duo, those two are.
    But I agree. I do not trust Assad to hold his word, nor do I trust the "security forces" to listen to him even if he did give the order to stand down. I consider Assad an international war criminal, that needs to be detained as soon as possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    @10 LUFC_FR "But will the terrorists with backing from Turky, Saudi, Bahrain, Britain, France, US, Isreal etc agree to a cease-fire?"

    Are you sure about Israel? I see you tactically excluded Iran's support for Al Assad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The only hope in this is that it may nudge Russia and China closer to acting once it's clear that Assad will once again not honour his word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The UN is a shamefull organisation. Why some countries have right to veto whatever they want while others doesnt have? Because they won WW2 and others didn't? UN is not protecting peace. It just legitimates some wars and outlaws others depending on the permanent members of security councils interests.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    While I am not a supporter of president Assad and his regime and his heavy use of force against his own people, the so called opposition groups are a bunch of selfish people with no concrete plans on how to resolve the conflict. The opposition has not really given peace a chance to reign. The opposition should stop all military activities and let the world see Assad commitment to peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    This is a joke of a peace plan....the only right plan would be for Assad to be arrested & brought to stand trial along with his brother Maher & the cronies at the top of his security forces. And it would also be only a peace plan if Russia stops immediately selling arms to the Assad cronies. Then the international media should be allowed in with Red Cross immediately, etc. But Assad is not trusty!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Post # 7. Mrs Daghman
    We'd all have a better idea of what was happening in Syria (including you) if the international news media wasn't banned (and the few that got in weren't actively targetted). If you're up to no good, the first thing to do is make sure no one can see what you're up to. Syrian state TV (controlled by Assad) isn't going to tell you anything Assad doesn't want you to hear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Assad should know that there is only way way for all dictators and that is the grave. If he was smart he would implement this plan and leave the country with his family asap. If he stays put, what happened to Gadaffi will happen to him

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The problem with peace plans is that unless you plan it very carefully, it is very easily abused. No-one will agree to a deal that allows the other side to regroup and renew its fighting later, nor a deal that requires them to stop shooting first.

    A plan that lacks the confidence of either side is worthless. It's no use blaming the other side - the only chance to find a deal acceptable to all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    As someone with family & friends in Syria - who once hoped for change when Bashar 'inherited' his position - I cannot but echo many of the skeptical comments.This regime is great at talking then doing the opposite on the ground.A government that indiscriminately shells, shoots, tortures & detains its own people (not terrorists) has a lot to prove for peace.I hope this is their last chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Instead of welcoming the peace initiative, the opposition factions seem to be trying to immediately derail it. Has their bluff been called I wonder? With Russia and China both endorsing the peace plan, President Assad is highly unlikely to jeopardise his relationship with them. Objective reporting will now be crucial and the role of the media paramount to the plan’s success.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Big problem to get the 'militants' back on the leash. They are barbarians of the worst kind.

    UNITED NATIONS | Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:46pm IST

    (Reuters) - Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad have been accused of using children as fighters in violation of international conventions banning the recruitment of child soldiers, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

    Oh dear!.


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