Syria welcomes Kofi Annan with more than 80 dead
Former UN Secretary General will meet President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to negotiate a political solution to the civil war. For the rebel troops, only "a waste of time." Yesterday, violence around the country left more than 80 dead.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - This morning the UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, is in Damascus for talks for possible negotiations with President Bashar al-Assad. Annan will remain in the capital for 24 hours. However, the Syrian National Council (SNC) has already defined this visit a "waste of time", if there is no military pressure on the Assad government. On the eve of his mission, in fact, the former Secretary General of the United Nations has asked both sides to stop all violence and sit at the negotiating table, adding that the "militarization" of the conflict can only make the situation worse.

At the moment, however, the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis does not seem to find many supporters. Since yesterday, a new wave of violence has hit various parts of the country, killing over 80 people. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (a group of opposition activists, based in London), at least half were victims of a raid near the provincial government of Idlib. Located north of Homs, the main center of rebels, Idlib is seen as the next target for military troops, after the battle for Baba Amr.

Protests yesterday also marked the anniversary of the Kurdish revolt in Syria in 2004, in which 30 people were killed. Thousands of Kurds demonstrated in the cities of the northeast, showing placards that read "Save the Syrian people." A video on Youtube shows hundreds of protesters in the Axles district of Damascus burning posters of Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, shouting "God damn your soul, Hafez".

In more than a year of violence, the UN estimates that at least 7,500 people have died in clashes between soldiers and rebels.