04/20/2012, 00.00
SYRIA

Syria's ceasefire "very fragile"

China backs observers' mission called for by agreement reached by Syria and the United Nations. Reports of air strikes and shelling continue however. The United States call for tighter sanctions, including an arms embargo.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - "It's a very fragile ceasefire," said Kofi Annan's spokesman as he spoke about the deal brokered last Tuesday in Damascus. Reports on the ground in fact confirm that clashes continue in various parts of Syria. Meanwhile, shelling by government forces was reported in Homs and surrounding areas (pictured). Protests were also reported in Damascus suburbs, Aleppo province, and the eastern city of Raqqa.

Yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Damascus had not yet honoured the ceasefire plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

"The past few days, in particular, have brought reports of renewed and escalating violence," he said. In addition, Syrian authorities have not yet pulled their troops and weapons out of the cities.

In view of the situation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped short of calling for outside military intervention at a meeting of the Friends of Syria group in Paris on Thursday but insisted instead on new sanctions and a total arms embargo on Syria.

"We need to start moving very vigorously in the Security Council for a Chapter 7 sanctions resolution," she said, "including travel, financial sanctions, an arms embargo, and the pressure that that will give us on the regime to push for compliance with Kofi Annan's six-point plan".

China backs the ceasefire plan. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said that it is willing to send observers to join the advance team.

The ceasefire deal includes in fact the deployment of 300 unarmed observers sent on a three-month mission to work across the country unimpeded.

 

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