Moscow (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Russia has called on Syria to withdraw troops from population centers, following the peace plan backed by the United Nations and the Arab League, which should start today. The Syrian opposition and the rebels, together with the United States and Turkey remain skeptical, accusing Damascus of continuing carnage in different Syrian cities.
After meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov told journalists that Moscow has called on "Syrian colleagues to rigorously implement the Annan plan." He also admitted that Syria has not been active enough to withdraw its army, although Al-Muallem has confirmed that the Assad government has already withdrawn its troops from some Syrian cities.
Lavrov also said that even the armed opposition must accept the plan of Kofi Annan. Among them there are in fact groups that have not yet signed it.
The UN-Arab League peace plan seems to be the last chance to bring peace to Syria, where the struggle against the Assad regime has entered its second year. But its implementation remains precarious.
In recent days the Syrian government placed an additional condition to the withdrawal of troops from the city: armed groups must sign an agreement to lay down their weapons. The rebels have said they accept the truce, but will not deliver the weapons to a regime that they do not recognize.
The Annan plan is active as of this morning and within 48 hours should switch to a full cease-fire. But the Syrian Human Rights Observatory, an organization close to the opposition based in London, said there were army bombs in the town of Mariah. The rebels say mortar attacks also took place in Harasta, on the outskirts of Damascus. Yesterday the violence also affected Turkey and Lebanon, at least two Syrian refugees and a Turkish translator were wounded in a Syrian refugee camp. The gun fire seemed to come from a clash between army and rebels. On the border with Lebanon, a Lebanese cameraman from Al-Jadeed Channel was killed.
The U.S. State Department is concerned and stated that "the violence has not decreased, in recent days it has even increased."
Today Kofi Annan is in Turkey, where he will visit the refugee camp hit yesterday. His stop Turkey is before his arrival in Tehran, where he hopes to seek Iran's help to convince Syria to obey the peace plan. According to Kofi Annan if his plan fails in Syria the entire Middle East region could erupt.