venerdì 30 marzo 2012
Clashes erupt in Syria, activists say, as leaders meet in Saudi Arabia for talks
30 Marzo 2012
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must order a cease-fire immediately under a peace plan Syria accepted and not wait for concessions from the opposition, a spokesman for special envoy Kofi Annan said Friday.
"The government must stop first and then discuss a cessation of hostilities with the other side and with the mediator," said Ahmad Fawzi, Annan's spokesman. "We expect him to implement this plan immediately."
Annan is making plans to travel to Iran to discuss the Syrian crisis.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Saudi Arabia for discussions with King Abdullah and leaders of other Gulf states before heading to Turkey over the weekend for a meeting of the 60-nation Friends of the Syrian People group.
The six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council have closed their Syrian embassies and called on the international community to get more aggressive in efforts to stop the unabated bloodshed.
Again Friday, opposition activists reported heavy fighting and shelling throughout Syria. At least 42 people were killed, including four children, said the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists in Syria.
The fresh fighting cast more doubt on the peace plan brokered by Annan, the United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria. Al-Assad accepted the terms of the plan Tuesday, but the violence has persisted.
Security forces stormed cities Friday in Homs province, opposition activists said.
At least 15 mortars targeted Homs city neighborhoods including Bab Tudmor and Safsafa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Columns of black smoke billowed in the Al-Bayada neighborhood.
In the northern city of Idlib, the Local Coordination Committees reported the Syrian army was shelling a mosque and a hospital.
Fighting between military defectors and security forces erupted in Hama, Deir Ezzor and the Damascus Countryside province, the Local Coordination Committees said.
The United Nations estimates that the Syrian conflict has killed more than 9,000 people since a government crackdown on protesters began in March 2011. Opposition activists put the toll at more than 10,000.
CNN cannot independently confirm reports from inside Syria because the government severely restricts access by international journalists.
The peace plan calls for an end to the violence by the government and opposition, timely humanitarian aid, speeding the release of arbitrarily detained people, ensuring freedom of movement for journalists and respecting peaceful demonstrations and freedom of association.
While Annan's spokesman made it clear that al-Assad must stop firing his guns immediately, the Syrian leader urged Annan to focus on drying up sources supporting terrorism against Syria, especially by countries that have pledged to finance and arm "terrorist groups."
Syria routinely blames armed terrorist groups for violence in the country, but most reports from inside the nation suggest that the government is slaughtering civilians to quash dissent.
"In return for a formal commitment by Syria for the success of Annan's mission, it is necessary for him to obtain commitments from other parties to stop all terrorist acts, disarm gunmen and to end their terrorist acts, kidnapping, killing innocents and sabotaging infrastructure," al-Assad said, according to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.
He expressed hope that Annan will deal with the crisis, saying Syria is willing to conduct a national dialogue with groups seeking stability.
Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, will be in Istanbul this weekend to attend the second meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. He intends to join the U.N. Security Council in a private meeting Monday to brief members
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for Tehran and Ankara's joint cooperation to resolve the Syrian crisis.
"Iran and Turkey should launch joint cooperation and help each other in this regard," he said, according to the Iranian semiofficial Fars News Agency.
At the weekend meeting in Istanbul, Turkey plans to renew a call for international help to deal with the soaring numbers of Syrians fleeing violence to Turkey's southern provinces.(da "CNN")