UNITED NATIONS- The recent up-normal violence in Syria has once again escalated to levels seen before the cease-fire plan was put in place in April, according to the UN and Arab League special Envoy Kofi Annan.
Annan says the UN military observers in Syria had documented evidence of the use of helicopter gunships by government forces. He says the Syrian government has the upper hand to stop the violence, killings and human rights abuses.
Annan says he was hopeful that the Syria contact group currently in formation will give the peace plan the much needed impetus and that governments with influence on parties to the conflict will exact pressure to have the peace plan implemented in full.
Ahmad Fawzi is the spokesperson for The Joint Special Envoy said “The objective of creating this group is to convince the parties to implement the plan in its entirety. It is not create a new plan. This is the only plan on the table at the moment what is lacking is its implementation. And that is why we count on these member states with influence on the parties to put irrevocable pressure on the parties to implement the plan and stop the killing and begin a political transition.”
“Violence in all its forms by all parties must stop immediately for sake of the Syrian people we are not taking sides in this conflict. The only side we are on is the side of the Syrian people women men and children who are suffering in Syria.” Fawzi added.
Renewed escalation of violence and fighting between Syrian troops and opposition forces is causing serious concern for joint United Nations-Arab League special envoy, Kofi Annan.
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces are reported to have renewed their attack on the city of Homs and there are also reports of attacks in the town of Al-Haffa in Lattakia province.
Annan says he is particularly concerned about the recent shelling of Homs, as well as reports of the use of mortar, helicopters and tanks in the town of Al-Haffa.
Ahmad Fawzi said “There are indications that a large number of civilians are trapped in these towns.”
Fawzi insists “Annan demands that the parties take all steps to ensure that civilians are not harmed and he also further demands the entry of the UN military observers be allowed into Al-Haffa immediately.”
Regarding Syria crisis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also deeply concerned over an increase in the level of violence in the country and calls for an immediate end to the fighting there, his spokesperson said Tuesday.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deep concern at the dangerous intensification of armed violence across Syria over the past several days, and the grave danger facing civilians in areas under fire,” the UN chief's spokesperson said in a statement on Monday evening. “The bloodshed and fighting must stop at once.”
Earlier on Monday, UN observers with the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) reported an increased level of armed confrontation between Government and opposition forces, especially in the city of Homs, a Syrian opposition stronghold, and in Rastan and Talbiseh, north of the city.
The UN observers also called on the parties to grant them immediate and unfettered access to conflict zones.
In the statement, UN Ban's spokesperson noted that the Syrian Government's intensive military operations – including the shelling of Homs and reportedly other population centres, as well as firing from helicopters on Talbiseh and Rastan – are resulting in heavy civilian casualties and human rights violations.
“The Secretary-General underlines the importance of unimpeded access by UNSMIS to Al-Haffa, amid reports of a build-up of Government forces around the town,” the spokesperson stated, noting that in this context, UNSMIS staff are also observing planned and coordinated attacks on Government forces and civilian infrastructure in multiple locations.
“The violence as a whole is intensifying amid the shifting tactics,” the spokesperson said. “The Secretary-General condemns this escalation of armed violence, in particular the shelling of population centres and attacks against civilian infrastructure by all sides, which impairs delivery of essential services and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis.”
“The Secretary-General further calls on all sides to stop the killing, cease armed violence in all its forms and seek peaceful political means to resolve the deepening crisis, as called for by the six-point plan,” Ban's spokesperson said. “The parties must abide by their obligations under international law.”
He stated that Secretary-General Ban “reiterates his call for all countries with influence on either side to convince them to put the welfare of Syrians first, to pull back from the brink and to reflect on the devastating consequences that increasing violence is having for the people of Syria, the country and the region,” and remains ready to work with the entire international community to assist the sides to achieve a political solution to the crisis.
UNSMIS's observers have been charged with monitoring the cessation of violence in Syria, as well as monitoring and supporting the full implementation of a six-point peace plan put forward in March by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan.
The peace plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
Late last week, Secretary-General Ban said that, at the request of the Security Council, he will soon put forward a range of options for resolving the crisis in Syria.
He noted that the six-point peace plan – which was endorsed by the Council – remains at the centre of efforts of resolve the crisis, but “at the same time, in view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussions.”
The UN chief added that, along with Joint Special Envoy Annan and the League of Arab States' Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, he had seen little evidence of the Syrian Government complying with its commitments under the six-point peace plan, while at the same time; the opposition was hardening and turning increasingly to arms.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.