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Annan to Assad: 'The Deadline is Now'

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has demanded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad immediately implement an agreed to ceasefire.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 3/30/2012, 3:46 PM

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Reuters

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Friday demanded the Syrian Government implement a ceasefire it previously agreed to immediately.

"The deadline is now," an Annan spokesman said, adding the former UN chief believed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad needed "to make a good faith gesture."

Assad previously agreed to a six point plan by Annan aimed at finding a peaceful solution to over a year of unrest in Syria, which included an immediate ceasefire.

UN Human Rights officials say at least 9,100 have been killed in the popular uprising against Assad's 11-year autocratic rule and accuse Assad of war crimes.

It was reported Thursday that UN rights chief Navi Pillay had said there was ample evidence to prosecute Assad.

“Factually there’s enough evidence pointing to the fact that many of these acts are committed by the security forces, (and) must have received the approval or the complicity at the highest level,” she told the BBC.

“President Assad could simply issue an order to stop the killings and the killings would stop...” Pillay explained. “So this is the kind of thing that judges hearing cases on crimes against humanity will be looking at on command responsibility.”

Shortly before Pillay's visit to the country early this month, reports of "mop-up operations" by Assad's forces in fallen rebel strongholds began to reach the international press.

Accounts of war crimes, including systemic rape and torture, and mass executions, have become commonplace as Assad's forces routinely shell civilian areas.

However, Pillays remarks and Annan's demands have failed to deter Assad from pursuing his brutal crackdown on dissent in Syria.

Tanks hammered the Bab Tadmor, Bustan Al Diwane, Hamadiyeh and Al Safsafa neighborhoods of Homs on Friday, while troops also launched assaults on towns in northwestern Idlib province.

Two people were reportedly killed near Bsas village, in Homs province, when the car in which they were travelling was fired upon by soldiers.

In Idlib province, security forces torched four houses during raids in the town of Maaret Al Numan, local witnesses told the AFP.

Before dawn, fighting broke out between Assad's and rebel fighters from the Free Syria Army in the towns of Harasta and Irbin, in Damascus province.

Fierce fighting was also reported in the provinces of Hama, in central Syria, and Deir Ezzor in the east.

Protests in Syria began as peaceful demands for reform rather than Assad's ouster, but the president's brutal crackdown quickly led for calls for him to step down.

As the crackdown intensified protest leaders say they were forced to take up arms in the cause of their people.