The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, is gravely concerned by the latest reports of violence coming out of the Middle Eastern country and the escalation of fighting by both Government and opposition forces, his spokesperson said today.
“He is particularly worried about the recent shelling in Homs as well as reports of the use of mortar, helicopters and tanks in the town of Al-Haffa, Lattakia,” Mr. Annan’s spokesperson added in a news release. “There are indications that a large number of civilians are trapped in these towns.”
The spokesperson also said that Mr. Annan “demands that the parties take all steps to ensure that civilians are not harmed, and further demands that entry of the UN military observers be allowed to the town of Al-Haffa immediately.”
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 15 months ago.
Military observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) have been charged with monitoring the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitoring and supporting the full implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward by Joint Special Envoy Annan in March.
The plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
Late last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, at the request of the Security Council, he will soon put forward a range of options for resolving the crisis in Syria. He noted that the six-point peace plan – which was endorsed by the Council – remains at the centre of efforts of resolve the crisis – but “at the same time, in view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussions.”
The UN chief added that, along with Joint Special Envoy Annan and the League of Arab States’ Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, he had seen little evidence of the Syrian Government complying with its commitments under the six-point peace plan, while at the same time, the opposition was hardening and turning increasingly to arms.