Syria: Assad Agrees to April 10 Pull Back
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to an April 10 deadline to start implementing a peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
"The Syrian government is committed but we are expecting Mr. Kofi Annan and some parties in the Security Council also to get the same kind of commitments from the (opposition). A plan wouldn't be successful unless everybody is committed to it," Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told reporters.
"It's by common accord between our minister and Mr. Kofi Annan," he said when asked who suggested the April 10 deadline.
The partial implementation of the Annan plan would include a full cessation of hostilities within 48 hours of the deadline, diplomats at a closed briefing by Annan told AFP.
Annan appealed to the 15-member UN Security Council to support the deadline, the diplomats said.
The former UN chief also called on the council to consider the deployment of an observer mission with a broad mandate to monitor events in Syria.
Annan's announcement came one day after US officials said Annan was firmly in power, and Damascus proclaimed victory over the rebels.
The Syrian government will reportedly start by halting the movement of troops into cities, withdraw heavy weapons from cities, and start to pull back troops.
But critics say an additional week's delay by Assad is aimed at shoring up Assad's position of strength before he opens talks with the opposition.
In recent months Assad has scored major victories against a rag-tag armed insurgency and reports of war crimes including the mass rape, torture, and execution of dissidents in fallen rebel strongholds.
Meanwhile, at least 11 people were killed Monday as Syrian forces pressed their crackdown on dissent, pounding rebel bastions mainly in the restive north which also left many hurt, monitors said.
"Two civilians and five rebels were killed by gunfire and shrapnel in an offensive launched this morning in the village of Hass," Idlib province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Troops also set ablaze the houses of residents who had fled and arrested dozens of people in the village, it added.
Two other Idlib villages, Deir Subol and Farkia, were also targeted by troops in an operation in which a 16-year-old boy was killed and three other people injured.
Also Monday, a civilian was killed in an explosion in the northern city of Aleppo, it said.
In Daraa, cradle of the uprising, forces carried out arrest raids in the town of Dael, where two houses were burnt and a third collapsed.
Heavy machinegun fire was heard in the Hamidiyeh and Souk Al Hashish neighborhoods of Homs city, one of the main targets of the regime's year-long crackdown, said the LCC.
The villages came under heavy gunfire, activist Nureddin Abdo told AFP, adding forces backed by tanks stormed the town of Al-Maghara, also "raiding houses, burning some of them and arresting youths."
UN Human Rights officials say Assad's bloody crackdown on a popular uprising against his 11-year autocratic rule has killed more than 9,100 people.