Rebel Chief Calls on Annan to Admit Failure (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Gabe Kahn 06/01/12)
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The head of the Free Syrian Army of Thursday pressed UN envoy Kofi
Annan to formally announce his peace plan has failed - and to release
the rebels from any commitment to honor the truce.
Colonel Riad Al Asaad, who is based in Turkey, also contradicted a
statement by the rebels inside Syria who issued President Bashar
Assad an ultimatum to abide by the conditions of Annan’s plan by noon
“There is no deadline, but we want Kofi Annan to issue a declaration
announcing the failure of this plan so that we would be free to carry
out any military operation against the regime,” Asaad told Al Jazeera
Annan’s plan has not stemmed bloodshed in Syria, and the US envoy to
the UN warned – unless the Security Council acts swiftly to pressure
Syria to end its crackdown on opposition – that countries may act
unilaterally outside the UN framework.
Susan Rice said the worst case and most likely scenario is where “the
violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies... It
involves countries in the region, it takes on increasingly sectarian
forms, and we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the
She warned that Iran-allied Syria could become “a proxy conflict with
arms coming in from all sides,” and world powers would consider
taking unilateral actions, Rice said, according to Reuters.
Her remarks come after reports that US officials are mulling arming
Syria´s rebels – with the likelihood of outside intervention
increasing after Friday’s Houla Massacre.
UN investigators issued a report citing witness statements that pro-
Assad Shahiba gunmen perpetrated the mass execution of 108 in Houla –
including 49 children, and 32 women.
The massacre led to intense international blowback, with nine nations
ejecting Syria´s diplomats in protest.
Meanwhile, Syria on Thursday sought to blame the rebels for the
massacre on "up to 800 rebel fighters."
The narrative starkly contradicted accounts of witnesses who
blamed “shabiha” or pro-Assad militias.
Damascus launched its own investigation into the deaths and announced
that special prayers for the victims would be held at mosques across
the country on Friday.
At a news conference Thursday, Qassem Jamal Suleiman, who headed the
government’s investigation into the massacre, categorically denied
any regime role.
He said hundreds of rebel gunmen carried out the slaughter after
launching a coordinated attack on five security checkpoints, AP
The aim, he said, was to frame the government and to ignite sectarian
strife in Syria.
“Government forces did not enter the area where the massacre
occurred, not before the massacre and not after it,” he said, adding
that the victims were families who refused to oppose the government
or carry arms.
A Houla-based opposition activist said it was clear that there had
been no government investigation.
“The regime is looking for ways to justify the massacre to the
world,” the activist, Saria al-Houlany, told AP. “It´s clear that
there wasn´t any professional probe. ... If we had 800 fighters in
Houla, this massacre would not have happened.”
The area is still under attack. The government focused its shelling
Thursday on the Houla village of Al Tibeh.
The activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that
some residents fled to nearby towns and villages “fearing a new
massacre” as the area again came under fire, according to AP.
Government forces have also bombarded towns, fired on protesters and
attacked rebel strongholds, killing many hundreds of people in the
last seven weeks, the activists say.
Annan’s spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi, responding to Asaad’s call, said it
was not for the envoy to declare defeat.
“The Annan plan does not belong to Kofi Annan. It belongs to the
parties that have accepted it and the international community that
has endorsed it,” he told reporters.
“So a failure of the Annan plan would be the failure of the
international community to solve this peacefully,” Fawzi said. “If
anyone has a better plan they should come up with it.”
The UN says Assad’s forces have killed more than 9,000 people since
the start of the uprising 14-months ago, but admits that it has not
maintained a tally in months due to the chaos in the country.
Local opposition activists say the death toll has now exceeded
12,000 – most of them civilians – with over 1,000 being killed since
the Annan plan´s April deadline passed. (IsraelNationalNews © 2012
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