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Annan Says 'No Preconditions' As Violence Continues

April 10, 2012

International envoy Kofi Annan has said the bloodshed in Syria must end without any preconditions, as violence continued across the country despite a cease-fire agreement coming into force.

"Let me again appeal to the Syrian government and the Syrian [opposition] parties to cease violence in accordance with the plan, and I believe there should be no preconditions for stopping violence," Annan said at a news conference in a refugee camp in Hatay in southeastern Turkey. "That is something we need to do for the people and for the country concerned."

Under a plan negotiated by Annan, government troops were to begin withdrawing from cities by April 10 ahead of a full cease-fire coming into place on April 12.

But activists said government forces shelled parts of the central cities of Hama and Homs on April 10, and a number of civilians were killed in the fresh violence, while unidentified gunmen reportedly killed six soldiers in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.

Annan said President Bashar al-Assad's government appears not to be honoring its commitments.

"I had hoped that by now we would have been much further ahead along the road, with the government of Syria honoring its commitments and all the parties beginning to take steps to end all violence, violence of all types," Annan said.

Annan added that he had information that the Syrian military is withdrawing from some areas but also moving into other parts not previously targeted.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, on a visit to Russia, said some army units had been withdrawn from some areas and a number of detainees released.

Muallem said that, despite these measures, “we noticed on a daily basis the escalation of opposition by the armed terrorist gangs."

He said Damascus wanted guarantees from Annan that armed groups attacking its troops would commit to a cease-fire under the peace plan.

Muallem also accused Turkey of arming Syrian rebels and helping them cross the border.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Syria of a "clear violation" of its borders, after shots fired from the Syrian side injured several people inside Turkey, while two people died while trying to flee across the border on April 9.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/syria_violence_continues _despite_ceasefire_deadline/24543230.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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