Arab, Western leaders press Annan for timetable on Syria
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT — Arab and Western officials on Sunday urged Kofi Annan to set a timetable for his Syria peace plan, given that killings have continued in the five days since the Syrian government agreed to abide by the accord.
The request came at the “Friends of the Syrian People” conference held in Istanbul, Turkey, where at least 70 delegates came to discuss the ongoing conflict in Syria and the failure of President Bashar Assad to stop his forces from attacking cities and cracking down on opposition.
Assad agreed on Tuesday to the six-point plan proposed by Annan, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, that calls in part for a cease-fire and an end to troop movements.
“Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in televised comments from the conference.
She warned that if security forces did not stop killing their own civilians then Syrian officials would “face serious consequences."
“The Syrian regime will inevitably fall; don't prolong the catastrophe," urged opposition Syrian National Council leader Burhan Ghalioun, who attended the conference.
The coalition of countries released a communiqué from the conference which included a pledge of millions of dollars in humanitarian and communication aid to the Syrian people and rebels, news services reported. But notably, there was no mention of military support or weapons that the rebels, who are outgunned against the Syrian army, have been requesting for months.
The conference came the same day that 68 people across Syria were reported killed in continued shelling of towns and clashes with the army, according to the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group. The death toll included 21 people in the central city of Homs, which is now entering a third month of shelling of various neighborhoods.
The Syrian government restricts access of the media to the conflict zones — one of the issues Annan's six-point plan calls on the regime to address — which makes it difficult to independently verify the deaths reported by the opposition.
— Times staff
Photo: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the media after a conference in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. Credit: Associated Press.