Daily Israel Report

Annan Sees 'Progress' as Syrian Blood Flows

UN special envoy Kofi Annan says his talks with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad were 'productive' as at least 100 more are slain.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 7/9/2012, 6:46 PM

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Reuters

UN special envoy Kofi Annan said he had constructive talks in Damascus on Monday with President Bashar al-Assad as violence continues unabated in Syria.

"I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad," Annan said as he prepared to head to Tehran for talks with Syria's main ally in the region.

"We agreed an approach which I will share with he opposition," he told reporters. Once again, Annan stressed the important of halting violence and promoting political dialogue – the key points of the plan he put forward in April.

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said in a Twitter message: "In both meetings we reassured Annan of Syria's commitment to implement the 6-points Plan and hoped other side is mutually committed."

However, in a television interview aired on Sunday, Assad accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and the United States, of supplying arms and logistical support to the rebel Free Syrian Army which is trying to overthrow him.

"We know that (Annan) is coming up against countless obstacles but his plan should not be allowed to fail, it is a very good plan," he told Germany's ARD network.

"The main obstacle (is) that many countries don't want (it) to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria," Assad said, according to a transcript of the interview, held in English.

Meanwhile, an activist website said over 100 Syrians had been killed on Sunday, most of them civilians.

The website reported army shelling and clashes with rebels on Monday in Deir Ezzor, Deraa, Homs, Aleppo and a neighborhood of Damascus. Residents also reported the sound of gunfire in the capital.

However, while Assad has faced sanctions and international condemnation over his crackdown on dissent, major Western and Arab powers have shied away from direct military action.

"The sooner there can be an end to the violence and a beginning of a political transition process, not only will fewer people die, but there is a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria but to the region," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Tokyo news conference.

She appeared to be referring to the possibility of Syrian rebels launching such an assault on state institutions rather than to any outside intervention.

"There is no doubt that the opposition is getting more effective in their defense of themselves and in going on the offence against the Syrian military and the Syrian government's militias. So, the future ... should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime," Clinton added.

"The sand is running out of the hour glass." Syria's navy fired live missiles from ships and helicopters over the weekend, in an exercise aimed at demonstrating its ability to "defend Syria's shores against any possible aggression", state media said.

Despite Annan's optimism the death-toll in Syria's popular uprising turned civil war continues to climb. UN officials say at least 16,500 people – most of them civilians – have been killed in the 16-months since Syria's Arab Spring revolt erupted in March 2011.

Kofi Annan and Bashar al-Assad, 9 July 2012 Reuters