Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Assad vows to aid peace mission

Syria's president has promised to do all he can to ensure UN envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan for his country succeeds but demanded a pledge from his opponents to halt violence.

His call came as rebels carried out a string of bold attacks, killing two army colonels and kidnapping a high-ranking pilot.

Bashar Assad's condition of an express promise from the opposition to stop attacks could complicate Mr Annan's attempts to bring an end to more than a year of violence that the UN says has killed more than 9,000 people.

The opposition has cautiously welcomed Mr Annan's six-point plan, which calls for Assad's regime to implement a ceasefire.

However, the opposition is also deeply sceptical Assad will carry it out, believing he has accepted the plan just to win time while his forces continue their assault to crush the uprising. Armed rebels are unlikely to stop fighting unless offensives by security forces halt.

The diplomatic moves came as Arab leaders met in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in their annual summit and were expected to issue a resolution backing Annan's plan. In speeches at the summit, many leaders made clear they felt the burden was on Assad's regime to halt the fighting.

"The Syrian government is required today to listen to the voice of reason and wisdom and stop all kinds of violence," the emir of Kuwait told the gathering.

In comments carried on Syria's state news agency, Assad said: "Syria will spare no effort to make (Annan's) mission a success and hopes it would return security and stability to the country."

He added that Annan must also get a commitment from armed groups to cease their "terrorist acts" against the government.

Throughout the crisis, Assad's regime has held that it faces not a popular uprising against his rule but a campaign of violence by terrorists.


From Belfast Telegraph