03/26/2012, 00.00
SYRIA
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Kofi Annan's mission may be the "last chance" to avoid civil war in Syria, Medvedev says

Russian president backs former UN general secretary's plan, but does not say how it can be implemented. US president and Turkish prime minister talk about providing "non-lethal" aid to Syrian rebels. Human Rights Watch accuses Syrian forces of using human shields in front of soldiers and tanks.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Kofi Annan's mission "may be the last chance for Syria to avoid a protracted and bloody civil war," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday as he expressed support for the former UN general secretary, who is trying to convince Syria's government and opposition to stop the fighting a year after the rebellion began.

However, it is unclear how this can be done given Moscow's (and Beijing's) vetoes against anti-Assad resolutions at the Security Council. Annan's plan includes a ceasefire, the immediate withdrawal of heavy weapons from residential areas and access for humanitarian aid, all of which were part of an Arab league plan rejected by Damascus.

The Russian warning comes as US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced the idea of sending "non-lethal" aid to the Syrian armed opposition, including communications equipment and medical supplies. This could be decided as early as the next meeting of the "Friends of Syria" scheduled for 1 April.

Speaking about the matter, Erdogan said, "We cannot remain a spectator to these developments," something that is not going to go down well in Moscow, especially since Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov "underscored the need to end violence from all sides".

In the meantime, rebel sources said that 15 civilians were killed during an attack against the city of Homs (pictured), whilst US-based Human Rights Watch accused Syrian security forces of using human shields in front of their soldiers and tanks.

 

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