Syria not made full military withdrawal - peace envoy

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 24, 2012 2:21 PM
Syria not made full military withdrawal - peace envoy

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Syria has not made the full military withdrawal it agreed to under a peace plan, mediator Kofi Annan will tell the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, according to his spokesman.

Speaking on U.N. Television, spokesman Ahmad Fawzi also cited "credible reports" that said Syrian forces were intimidating and, in some cases, killing people who speak to U.N. truce mediators in the country.

Satellite imagery showed Syrian forces had not withdrawn all heavy weapons from urban centers and returned to their barracks, as they are required to do under Annan's six-point peace plan, he said.

"They (Syrian authorities) are claiming that this has happened. Satellite imagery, however, and credible reports show that this has not fully happened, so this is unacceptable, and Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan will be saying this to the Security Council today when he addresses them in closed session," Fawzi said.

"We are calling on the Syrian government to fully implement its commitments under the ceasefire," he said.

Annan, who delivered a speech at Lund University in Sweden on Tuesday, is due to brief the U.N. Security Council later by video link.

"He will be laying out the challenges on the ground, the challenges of monitoring with very few observers, the challenges of launching a political process while there is no cessation of hostilities, because you need a cessation of hostilities to begin a credible process," Fawzi said.

Eleven U.N. observers are deployed in Syria as part of an advance team monitoring compliance with a truce that went into effect on April 12 but remains "extremely fragile", he said.

"They are entering areas where there has been conflict like Homs and Hama and when they go (there) the guns are silent," Fawzi said.

"We have credible reports that when they leave, the exchanges start again, that these people who approach the observers may be approached by the Syrian security forces or the Syrian army or even worse, perhaps killed and this is totally unacceptable," Fawzi added.

Activists said on Monday that the Syrian army killed more than 20 people in Hama on Monday, shattering a week of relative quiet in the central city visited a day earlier by U.N. monitors laying the ground for a wider mission to oversee the shaky truce.

The unarmed monitors returned to Hama on Tuesday and two stayed behind, to be stationed there, Fawzi told Reuters. Another two are stationed in the flashpoint city of Homs, leaving the others to cover the rest of the country. Some were in Damascus, Zabadani and Douma on Tuesday, he added.

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Three military officers were shot dead in Damascus on Tuesday and at least three people were wounded by a car bomb as violence continued to challenge the truce.

"We feel and Mr. Annan feels that we need a stronger presence for mobility, flexibility, the ability to be present in most places at the same time. With 11 or 12 monitors, you can't be everywhere, and there are many cities that have seen destruction and have seen fighting and we have to be present," Fawzi said.

Referring to a decision by the Security Council last Saturday to authorize the deployment of a further 300 observers, he said: "With up to 300, we will be able to monitor more cities than two or three at a time."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)