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 82.

    Between Assad and the Islamic Theocrats who would likely replace him, I don't see much hope for Syria's future.

    Yet another failed Middle-Eastern State on Europe's border yet another endless stream of hand wringing and excuses disguised as principles from the international community.

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Foreign military intervention is always a disaster e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq. The limitation of foreign intervention to peace mandate is sufficient to avoid violent and promote peace. To supply arms to either side against the other is purely a war propaganda and promoting it. Syria crisis has many side to it. Promoting war seems the business in Western madia.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    The people of Syria, meaning Syrians people themselves must come together and sit on the table and deal with this crisis in good faith and mature manner and no one else. I am certain Syrians are capable of making peace for their country. Please don't make this an ethnic issuea between Alawait, Suni Christian or Shites. Stop dividing a country within an ethnic red code. Peace require unity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Stall tactics to do not stop a revolution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    God Bless the peace-makers, including Mr. Annan. Such people deserve our greatest respect, and gratitude. , and remind us to keep hope alive! As regards the current holder of the Most High position in Syria, I cannot (yet again), quite fathom how such people claim the right to be regarded as human. Do not such people have children, and other human attributes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    The plan to attack Syria from the inside out has worked a treat as it has so many times in history. The FSA has been parading as the actual army and killing since Jan 2011, this is fact. To think otherwise is illogical. UN is a snake in the grass. Pick up a book, do some research and you will see for your self. Whats to come is predictable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    While I sit in my save and secure house in the South Pacific with my two year old playing happily I think great!! some progress towards a peaceful future for the Syrian people. But Assad is a despot! He and his Cabal have the biggest guns and a ruthless desire to hold onto power and their comfort.
    Well done Annan and the rest of the international negotiators but only time will tell..........

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    This plan seems like a plagiarized copy of the AL plan from months before... a plan which failed.

    with 5,000 additional deaths since then, it seems ridiculous to try and pretend this virtual clone of the AL plan has much chance of success.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Al-Assad is with power like a miser with money...he can't bear to let go of it. I think he is only buying time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    @24: Why would the opposition factions accept peace after Assad has unforgivably killed 9,000 of his own men, women and children? How they can just forget that and brush it under the rug and act as if nothing happened?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I salute those of you, who possesses an objective eye, and are looking at this crises -that is disturbing Syria`s development plans-. For my brothers who still believes that the solution is OK no matter what! allow me to ask you to reconsider the consequences of any solution that includes violence.
    is`NT there any solution that ensures the unity of Syria?!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Please, please let this be the beginning of the end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    24.Jiminy Cricket

    Of course the opposition are going to be skeptical - despots never like to relinquish power - just look @ Gadaffi who implemented a cease fire and his troops continued shelling Benghazi.

    We will probably see a few more (regime) car bombs after it's inception which will give the govt excuse to break the plan.

    The man cannot be trusted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    How can anyone believe the rulers of Syria that they want peace when they continue to kill their own people?

    Have they killed enough of their own citizens or have they run out of bullets and bombs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I hope that this peace plan works but I have my doubts. Point no. 1 in the plan is to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people. I just cannot see the Syrian government allowing this in any meaningful way, and the opposition see this as regime change. I doubt negotiations will resolve this but it has to be worth a try.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    T here was "an ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians", carried out by members of the "Brigade Faruq", This is according to sources in the Syrian Orthodox Church, which represents 60% of Christians in Syria. Militant armed Islamists - says the source - have managed to expel 90% of Christians from Homs and confiscated their homes by force.

    Peace cannot come soon enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    I can envisage a time when a divided UK will suppress violent uprisings and sadly our enemy, predictably, will come from within and is already here!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Funny how when Assad fights hardline Islamists he is called a monster, but when western governments do it they are fighting for 'democracy'.
    The fact that our 'leaders' seem to now be allied with Al Qaeda speaks reams about the rights & wrongs of what is happening.
    Assad is no enemy of the British people & we should no be conned with lies & faked news to believe that he is a monster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Dont forget assad has many supporters. What happens when the army moves out if the city and the opposition move in? The opposition will try to gain more territory. Either intervene and supply the opposition or just allow assad to carry on and put down the revolt. Dont create civil war by holding back and creating stalemates


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