REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- The Syrian government has agreed to the peace plan put forward by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his spokesperson said. But an activist complained that the agreement did not address the opposition's principal demand: that President Bashar Assad step down.
The United Nations and Arab League envoy has received a letter from the Syrian government accepting Annan’s six-point plan, which was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
According to Annan, it is “an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue.”
However, Annan stressed that “implementation will be key, not only for the Syrian people, who are caught in the middle of this tragedy, but also for the region and the international community as a whole.”
The plan includes talks between the opposition and the regime in an “inclusive Syrian-led political process”; a cease-fire and troop withdrawal; providing humanitarian assistance areas affected by the fighting; speeding up the pace and scale of releasing those who have been arbitrarily detained; allow free access to the media; and “respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.”
Some members of the political opposition remained skeptical.
"The most important point, not included in the plan, is that Bashar steps down and be taken to the international criminal court," said Mohammad, an activist from Douma reached by Skype.
"We say we want a trial to punish the killers," he added, requesting that his full name not be used for the sake of security. "Only today five people were killed in Douma. About what type of cease-fire they are talking about? The regime is just buying time."
Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency and Addounia TV reported that Assad visited the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs, which witnessed heavy fighting before government troops drove rebels out of the area early this month. Most residents fled to other areas of Homs or other Syrian cities.
"Mr. President Bashar Assad visited this morning Baba Amr district in the province of Homs and toured the streets to see the systematic damages of residential buildings, infrastructure, institutions, conducted at the hands of armed terrorist groups," SANA said.
"It is a part of a media war," said Amer Matar, a Syrian journalist. "It reminds me of the visit that the father, Hafez Assad, paid to Hama after committing a massacre in the city. He [the younger Assad] is sending a message, I won."
-- Rima Marrouch
Photo: Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in Beijing on Tuesday. Credit: Lintao Zhang / Associated Press