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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 23 October 2021

Syria's Assad to meet UN special envoy Kofi Annan

Russia has taken an unusual hardline against Syria’s current government ahead of the meeting.

Image: Bassem Tellawi/AP/Press Association Images

BASHAR ASSAD’S SYRIAN regime is to come under greater international pressure today as the president meets with United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan following the weekend’s massacre in the Houla region.

Ahead of the meeting and compelled by the appalling nature of the violence in Taldou, Russia – which has shown support to Assad over the past 14 months – has hardened its stance against his regime.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that although there is terrorists among opposition forces, the government still “bears the main responsibility for what is going on”. The comments come after 108 civilians were killed in a number of villages in the Houla area over the weekend. Over 40 children were among the victims.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry has continued to claim that Friday’s killings were the actions of a “foreign-funded” terrorist group. According to the State news agency SANA, media campaigns over the weekend have been “misleading”.

The ministry claimed no tank entered the area and that the army maintained the “highest degree of self-control”.

“All reports to the contrary are pure lies,” it added.

The UN Security Council has blamed Syrian forces for artillery and tank shelling of residential areas, but it did not clearly state who was responsible for the close-range shootings and “severe physical abuse” of civilians.

Activists and witnesses in the village say the army pounded them with artillery and clashed with local rebels. Pro-government gunmen later walked the streets, shooting and stabbing civilians. Gruesome footage of dead bodies and injured children have since surfaced across social media channels.

With his peace plan in jeopardy, Annan arrived in Syria yesterday and held meetings with Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. He is due to meet with Assad later today in the capital of Damascus.

According to BBC News, the special envoy has said that Syria needs to show it is serious about peace and take “bold steps” to show that. He added that his message this week for peace is not just for the government but “for everyone with a gun”.

Yesterday: UN condemns massacre in Syria in ‘strongest possible terms’>

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