UN special envoy Kofi Annan Thursday said it was time to discuss new ways for international community to effectively bolster his peace plan or come up with an other solution to end a crisis in Syria.
“I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented.” Annan said in an informal meeting at the General Assembly Thursday. Annan says shelling of cities in Syria has intensified and pro-government militias appear to have free reign to carry out attacks. He says armed opposition groups have intensified operations against government forces in response.
“Clearly, the time has come to determine what more can be done to secure implementation of the plan – and what other options exist to address the crisis.”
The Syrian regime contends militant groups are the main obstacle to the peace plan. Armed opposition groups say they will not respect the UN ceasefire while Syrian forces continue military operations against them.
The former Secretary General says the first responsibility to implement the ceasefire lies with the Assad government, but that at this point it seemed unlikely the Syrian regime would change course.
“As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming.” he told the General Assembly.
The UN special envoy for Syria also expressed horror at the massacre of civilians in Mazraat Al Qabeer on Wednesday.
“We cannot allow mass killing to become part of everyday reality in Syria.The country is becoming more polarized and more radicalized. And Syria’s immediate neighbours are increasingly worried about the threat of spillover.” he warned.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was shocked and sickened by reports coming from Mazraat Al Qabeer of innocent civilians shot, some allegedly burned or slashed with knives. Ban says UN mission observers have been denied access to the area, and shot at with small arms as they approached.
“Our brave UN observers are working in dangerous circumstances.” he said. “I call on President Assad to allow the UN observer mission to do its work, safely and without interference or intimidation.”
Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Al Jaafari denied government involvement in the massacre and blamed armed groups for the attack. The Syrian envoy also said footage of the victims broadcast by Al Jazeera and Al Arabia was fake, and the images taken from somewhere outside the country.
Jaafari said his government had implemented Kofi Annan’s ceasefire but that foreign backed terrorist groups continued to target the state.
US deputy Ambassador Rosemary Di Carlo dismissed the Syrian Ambassador’s version of accounts as ridiculous conspiracy theories and outright lies.
Di Carlo told the General Assembly the massacre in Al Houla two weeks ago was “an unambiguous demonstration of the Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its commitments as set forth in Security Council resolutions”.
“To date, the Assad regime has made no serious efforts to comply with its commitments to any of the six points of the Annan plan. The regime continues to use its heavy weapons against civilians.”she said. “We are sober to the fact that there is no possibility of moving forward with a dialogue that achieves this goal until the Syrian regime demonstrates meaningful and substantial progress towards its obligations and commitments.”
“If it does not do so, the international community must take further steps to increase pressure.”she said, adding that the Obama administration supported the June 2 League of Arab States decision to
Di Carlo also said the United States remained committed to Kofi Annan’s peace plan and would continue to engage with the international community on finding a political solution to the crisis.
American officials have renewed calls for UN Security Council action on the crisis in light of the recent upsurge in violence over the past two weeks
The Obama administration says imminent Security Council action, like economic sanctions, would be an appropriate way to strengthen Kofi Annan’s peace initiative and further pressure the Assad government to fully comply with the peace plan and end the violence.
But Russia and China continue to oppose further Security Council involvement in Syria. Moscow and Beijing argue rebel groups are also responsible for violations of the peace plan, and that Security Council sanctions would pressure the Assad government but do nothing to address violence carried out by the armed opposition.
Instead, Russian and Chinese diplomats say the Assad government and Syria’s opposition both have to respect the conditions of the ceasefire and implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan in its current form.
UN officials and diplomats on Wednesday also called on Assad government to allow UN humanitarian teams complete access to Syria to help the more than one million civilians in need of assistance.