UN observers in Damascus
Syria hasn't withdrawn heavy arms: Annan
United Nations, April 25, 2012
Syria has failed to comply with a pledge to withdraw weapons from population centers, and towns where citizens met with UN truce monitors may have been attacked, international mediator Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
As violence flared in the Syrian capital of Damascus, Annan told the 15-nation body 'we need eyes and ears on the ground, able to move freely and quickly' to watch over the ragged ceasefire. But the head of UN peacekeeping said deployment was moving slowly.
Annan made clear that Syrian forces had not withdrawn heavy weapons from urban centres and returned to barracks, as they are required to under a six-point peace plan he drew up.
'The situation in Syria continues to be unacceptable. The Syria authorities must implement their commitments in full, and a cessation of violation in all its forms must be respected by all parties,' Annan said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
He suggested the Syrian government was targeting people in areas where the monitors had met with civilians. He noted that he was 'particularly alarmed by reports that government troops entered Hama yesterday after observers departed, firing automatic weapons and killing a significant number of people.'
'If confirmed, this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,' Annan said. 'Two observers have been stationed in Hama today.'
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, sent a Twitter message from inside the council where Annan was briefing via video link, saying, 'targeting by Syrian regime of those speaking with UN monitors is outrageous but not unexpected.'
Rice said that was a direct violation of two resolutions the Security Council adopted this month to authorise the deployment to Syria of 300 monitors and an unspecified number of civilians as part of a UN observer mission called UNSMIS.
Activists said 31 people were killed in shelling and shooting in Hama, a hub of the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, immediately after a visit by a monitoring team.
Observers from the fledgling UN mission are maintaining a presence the central province of Homs, hotbed of the 13-month-old uprising, as part of efforts to silence the guns 12 days after Annan's peace deal was struck.
Under the terms of Annan's peace plan, both sides are supposed to adhere to a ceasefire while the army withdraws tanks and heavy weapons from population centres. - Reuters