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Syria accused of ignoring peace plan

The United States accused Syria‘s President Bashar al-Assad of failing to respect a UN-Arab League peace plan as Syrian forces continued their assault on rebel bastions Wednesday.

 
 A YouTube image-grab allegedly shows a house set on fire by Syrian regime militias in Yaduda in the southern Syrian province of Daraa. AFP is not in a position to independently verify this image. (AFP Photo/)

And as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Assad to implement the plan,
UN rights chief Navi Pillay
told the BBC that enough evidence had been gathered to bring human rights charges against Assad over the crackdown on opposition protestors.

In Baghdad, even as Arab foreign ministers thrashed out a resolution on Syria to be debated at a landmark Arab League summit on Thursday, Damascus made it clear it would not abide by any of its initiatives.

On the ground, at least 21 people were killed as Syrian forces backed by tanks attacked the central town of Qalaat al-Madiq and other areas Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Assad has not taken the necessary steps to implement” the peace plan crafted by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters in Washington.

Washington is concerned over “arrests and violence continuing in Syria today,” she added, vowing to “keep the pressure on Assad.”

“We will judge him on his actions, not his promises,” she added, echoing comments made Tuesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Senior US lawmakers went a step further in a non-binding resolution presented to the Senate.

Republican Senator John McCain presented a toughly worded text co-sponsored by four other senators condemning “the mass atrocities committed by the government of Syria”.

They backed calls by some Arab leaders “to provide the people of Syria with the means to defend themselves against Bashar al-Assad and his forces, including through the provision of weapons and other material support”.

Ban, who is to attend the summit in Baghdad, expressed deep concern at the continued bloodshed, which the UN says has claimed more than 9,000 lives in the past year.

While he welcomed Syria’s acceptance of the six-point plan put forward by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan as an “important initial step” towards ending the killing, he urged Assad “to put commitments into immediate effect.

“There is no time to waste,” he stressed.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay raised the stakes in an interview with the BBC that was broadcast Wednesday but recorded before Syria reportedly agreed to the Annan plan.

She said she believed the UN Security Council now had enough reliable evidence to warrant a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Assad’s role as commander of the security forces left him responsible for their actions during the unrest, she argued.

President Assad could simply issue an order to stop the killings and the killings would stop…,” she said.

Pillay also spoke of evidence she had seen that the regime was systematically targeting children, with hundreds having been detained and tortured.

“It’s just horrendous,” she said.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Wednesday on the eve of the Arab summit that the meeting would stop short of calling for Assad to quit or discuss arming his foes.

But Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that in any case Damascus would pay no heed.

“Syria will not cooperate with any Arab League initiative at any level,” he said.

The 22-member pan-Arab body in November voted at an extraordinary meeting to suspend Syria until Assad implemented an Arab deal to end the crackdown.

Qatar, which had pushed for a harder line against Assad, said it was sending a low-level representative to the Baghdad summit in a show of displeasure at the line taken by its Iraqi hosts.

Annan said on Tuesday that Assad’s government had accepted his plan, which includes a commitment to stop all violence, daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefires and media access to all areas affected by the fighting.

It also calls for an inclusive Syrian-led political process, the right to demonstrate, and the release of people detained arbitrarily.

China and Russia urged both sides to honour commitments to halt the armed conflict.

Moscow called on the Syrian opposition to “follow the example” of the Damascus regime in supporting Annan’s mediation efforts to stop the bloodshed.

Shelling killed four civilians, while five rebel fighters and four soldiers died in fierce clashes in Qalaat al-Madiq and surrounding villages, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The army tried to storm other rebel positions across the country, including northwest Idlib, central Homs and the southern province of Daraa, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

Troops entered the town of Qalaat al-Madiq, in Hama province, just after dawn following a 17-day barrage of shelling and heavy gunfire to root out rebels, but did not have full control of the town, it said.

Nguồn: Dan Tri News

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