11/03/2011, 00.00
SYRIA
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Damascus “unconditionally” accepts the Arab League plan

The agreement calls for an end to the violence, the withdrawal of the army from the cities, the release of political prisoners and the start of dialogue with the opposition. However, for the Syrian National Council, “What happened today is an attempt to buy more time” by a “regime [that] is notorious for manoeuvring and for giving promises and not implementing any of them." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the death three people killed this morning in Homs where “heavy machine fire is still being heard”.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Assad appears to have given in. Syria has officially accepted “unconditionally” the Arab League (AL) plan to end violence in the country. “The plan,” Syrian news agency SANA reports, “provided for stopping all acts of violence from any source in protection of the Syrian citizens, releasing the people who were arrested as a result of the current events and clearing the cities and residential areas from all armed aspects. It also included opening the way before the relevant AL organizations and the Arab and international media to move freely all around Syria to inspect the reality of the situation and monitor the events taking place.”

Nothing is said about Syrian demands that the opposition give up its weapons, that Arab states stop funding and arming the “rebels” and that the media campaign against Syria end.

For its part, the Arab League praised the agreement in a statement issued last night in Cairo. One of the authors of the plan, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani said, said the League would continue contacts between the Syrian government and the opposition "in preparation for a national dialogue within two weeks".

"Killing civilians must stop immediately in Syria," United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the Libyan capital Tripoli. "People have suffered too much for too long and it's an unacceptable situation."

"We support all international efforts that are aimed toward convincing the regime to stop attacking its own people,” said Victoria Nuland, a US state department spokeswoman. At the same time, the US administration continues to demand Assad’s departure, warning, “We're not going to judge them by their words. We're going to judge them by their actions.”

For its part, SANA said that the plan shows that the Syrian government is taking “tangible steps toward implementing its commitments”.

However, “What happened today is an attempt to buy more time” by a “regime [that] is notorious for manoeuvring and for giving promises and not implementing any of them,” said Najib al-Ghadban, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council.

In fact, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the death of three people killed this morning in Homs, where “heavy machine fire is still being heard”.
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