Annan ends Syria trip with no deal
12 March 2012, 08:05
Beirut - International envoy and former UN chief Kofi Annan left
Syria on Sunday without a deal to end the bloody year-old conflict as
regime forces mounted a new assault on rebel strongholds in the north.
Annan said he presented President Bashar Assad with concrete proposals "which will have a real impact on the ground".
it's agreed, it will help launch the process and help end the crisis on
the ground," he told reporters at the end of his two-day visit to
Annan, who also met with Syrian opposition leaders and
businessmen in Damascus, said he was optimistic following two sets of
talks with Assad, but acknowledged that resolving the crisis would be
"It's going to be difficult but we have to have hope," he said.
former UN chief called for reforms that would create "a solid
foundation for a democratic Syria", but added: "You have to start by
stopping the killing and the misery and the abuse that is going on today
and then give time for a political settlement."
bloodshed cast a pall over the UN efforts to end the country's yearlong
conflict, with both the regime and the opposition refusing talks with
In his discussions with Assad on Saturday,
Annan made several proposals to end the political crisis and start a
He was rebuffed by the president who
rejected any immediate negotiations with the opposition, striking a
further blow to already faltering international efforts for talks to end
Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country.
opposition's political leadership has also rejected dialogue, saying
talk is impossible after a crackdown that the UN estimates has killed
more than 7 500 people. That makes it likely that the conflict will
continue to edge toward civil war.
Annan left Syria later on Sunday, headed for Qatar, a UN spokesperson said.Idlib province
Syrian forces, meanwhile, kept up an offensive against rebel strongholds
in the north of the country and shelled neighbourhoods in the restive
central city of Homs, as well as clashing with rebel fighters across the
Military units loyal to Assad appear to have been freed up
after finally crushing lightly armed rebels in the Homs neighbourhood of
Baba Amr last week, and are on the attack in Idlib province, across the
border from key opposition supply bases in Turkey.
Saturday launched a long-anticipated assault to crush the opposition in
Idlib province, bombarding its main city with tank shells from all sides
and clashing with rebel fighters struggling to hold back an invasion.
forces had been building up for days around Idlib, the capital of a
hilly, agricultural province along the Syria-Turkey border that has been
a hotbed of protests against Assad's regime.
A Turkish official said the violence had led to a spike in Syrian civilians fleeing to Turkey.
1 000 have crossed the border in the past week as opposed to 1 000 in
the previous month, the official said, speaking on condition of
anonymity under government protocol.
Turkey now hosts about 12 500 Syrians - part of the more than 100 000 refugees who have fled to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.