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Kofi Annan urges Syria to halt violence in 48 hours

The former head of the UN has urged the Syrian government to withdraw its troops and halt all violence within the next two days.

Free Syrian Army fighters in a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria.
Free Syrian Army fighters in a neighborhood in Damascus, Syria.
Image: AP Photo

INTERNATIONAL ENVOY KOFI Annan has urged the Syrian government to withdraw its troops and halt all violence in 48 hours, saying its military operations and new conditions to implement his peace plan are putting a desperately needed ceasefire at risk.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, obtained by The Associated Press, Annan said President Bashar Assad’s government has not pulled troops and heavy military equipment out of cities and towns — as his six-point plan called for by Tuesday.

Annan, the joint U.N. and Arab League envoy, said it is essential that the Syrian government “seize the opportunity to make a fundamental change of course” in its military operations and halt all violence by 6 am local time on 12 April, the deadline set in his plan.

“It is essential that the next 48 hours bring visible signs of immediate and indisputable change in the military posture of the government forces throughout the country, as called upon by the six-point plan,” Annan said.

In a letter read to council members Tuesday at a closed meeting, Annan said opposition members have indicated that they would observe a ceasefire “provided Syrian forces withdraw from cities.”

He said the days before Tuesday’s deadline for Syria to withdraw all troops and heavy military equipment from cities and towns should have been an opportunity for the government “to send a powerful political signal of peace” with action on his peace plan.

He said the absence of U.N. observers made it difficult to fully ascertain the situation on the ground but “the rapid increase of refugee flows into Turkey gives a strong indication of a surge in violence.”

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