UN Awaits Syria’s Response as Assad Sets Election Date
Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, after presenting a six-point peace plan to Assad, left Damascus for Ankara on Tuesday to meet with a delegation of the Syrian national council (SNC). Annan reported that a response to the six-point proposal is expected from Syrian authorities within the next day. “One I receive their answer we will know how to react,” he said. Annan was seeking an immediate ceasefire in order to open the doors for humanitarian aid access and the commencement of dialogue between all parties. As part of a bundle of futile reforms unveiled to qualm the year-long uprising in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad announced that parliamentary elections will be held on May 7.
As international bodies strive for a political solution, Syrian troops shelled areas surrounding the Idlib province, which reportedly the regime targeting accounts is expected to be the next Homs. An activist in the nearby border town of Khan Shaykhoun in Turkey reported constant artillery fire since the morning. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the assault “cynical” noting that while Annan was negotiating peace, the army had increased it aggression. Reports of a massacre in Homs spread protests in at least five Syria towns stretching from Aleppo to Dara’a. Death estimates ranged between 47 and 53.
Russia released a statement agreeing to press Syria to accept “international monitors who could observe the implementation of a ‘simultaneous’ ceasefire” between government troops and opposition fighters. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that the ceasefire is to be simultaneous. “Ultimatums will not work,” said Lavrov. Clinton rejected any attempt to equivocate the violence perpetrated by the Assad regime and the civilians “driven to civil defense.”
In response to callls for military airstrikes by Rep. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) issued a statement in opposition to military intervention, saying that “John McCain does not speak for Congress.” President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in the Washington Post, declared their condemnation of violence used against Syrian civilians and affirmed their support of the U.N. Envoy and the opposition in order to “plan for the transition that will follow Assad’s departure from power.”
As the international community mulls over how best to stop the wide-spread and gratuitous violence in Syria, U.S. officials have expressed concern about President Assad store of chemical weapons.