New York (AsiaNews) - Kofi Annan, the new UN and the Arab League delegate to Syria, said that he will "plead" with Bashar Assad to join the international effort to find a peaceful solution to the violence that lasted for almost a year. The former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner has stressed that "the killings and the violence must stop" and that "humanitarian agencies must have access to do their job."
Annan also reiterated that "we need a dialogue between all actors in Syria" and that the way forward, is "a peaceful solution quickly, through dialogue," though - he noted - there are others at the UN with different ideas. The Arab League, a fringe of the Syrian opposition and some Western countries, like France and the United States, want a military solution similar to that implemented in Libya.
Annan has yet to receive permission to enter Syria. Damascus has requested more information on the objectives of the mission. In recent days, Syria had refused a visit from Valerie Amos, head of UN humanitarian agencies. In all likelihood, the reason was that until now the discussions and resolutions on Syria at the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations cited only the violence perpetrated by Damascus, without mentioning the opposition.
For the UN the death toll from clashes that began in March 2011 now stands at 7500. For Syria there are about 2500, including over 1300 in the military.
Annan's position of dialogue with all forces and his condemnation of violence on both sides is close to that of the Vatican, expressed two days ago by Mgr. Silvano M. Tomasi, the Holy See's representative to the UN in Geneva. At the meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights for an urgent debate on Syria, he stressed the importance of "multilateral and regional organizations" as a "means to promote peace and stability in the world." Msgr. Tomasi welcomes "the various initiatives to promote peace through the path of dialogue and reconciliation." But - he added - "the primary responsibility rests on the people of Syria and that is why I renew the appeal of the Holy Father [February 12 Here]" to give priority to the path of dialogue, reconciliation and commitment for peace. "
Meanwhile, on the ground, the situation remains very serious in the city of Homs, where the district of Baba Amr, considered a rebel base, has been under a heavy bombardment for weeks. There are rumors that after the destruction and the flight of the majority of civilians, the Syrian army will invade the district to eliminate all opponents.
According to analysts, Bashar Assad wants to eliminate the Homs resistance because the city is an important strategic point. Homs is the third largest city of Syria, the country's industrial lungs and home to refineries, and near the Lebanese border with the province of Tripoli that has a strong Sunni majority.
Homs is also a stepping stone to the north of the country with oil and gas passing through it to and from Turkey and other Gulf countries. If the opposition takes the city, the country would be cut in two, the rebellion would have a free channel with Lebanon, from where it might access weapons and support. The opposition said 23 people have died today in Homs, but it is impossible to verify independently.
France and Britain are working on a new draft resolution to be submitted to the UN Security Council to demand a humanitarian corridor to Homs, but this draft only accuses the Syrian government for the violence.
Weeks ago, China and Russia vetoed a similar resolution, but are prepared to support the idea of a humanitarian corridor, though Beijing accuses the West of pursuing "hegemonic ambitions" in Syria, under the guise of "humanitarian concern".