Annan hopes for improvement of Syria situation despite continued violence
The special envoy of the UN and the Arab League to Syria, Kofi Annan said Wednesday in Tehran he hoped for an improved situation in Syria as of Thursday morning, the date set by the UN Security Council to stop fighting. "If everyone respects (the ceasefire), I think that from 6:00 am Thursday, April 12, we should see a marked improvement in the situation on the ground and we will see progress, "Annan said at a press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi.
"It is possible and it is in the interest of the Syrians that both sides stop fighting from 06:00 April 12," he added.
He said the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had given him "further clarification": "What they want are assurances that the other forces, the opposition forces, also stop the fighting to facilitate a cessation of all violence ".
"We got positive responses from them and we are in contact with governments which have influence to ensure that all parties respect the cease-fire," said the former UN secretary general.
The Security Council on Tuesday urged the Syrian authorities to stop fighting until Thursday morning, after receiving a letter from Annan.
"Iran opposes to foreign intervention in the affairs of any country and we believe that any change in Syria will be under the Syrian government, "said Salehi.
He added that Iran "supported the reforms promised by the Syrian government, including freedom of political parties and free elections."
"We are pleased by the fact that there is no question in the peace plan of Mr. Annan over the Syrian head of state (...) We told Annan that Iran will support the peace plan as long as he pursued this approach," added Salehi.
On the ground, government forces, backed by dozens of armored personnel carriers, deployed in Maarba, in the province of Deraa, cradle of the protest in the south, amid heavy gunfire, reported the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.
Searches were also underway in other towns, according to the Observatory.
According to the Local Coordinating Committees (LCC), government forces launched an offensive on several cities in this province, where heavy explosions and gunfire were heard. The activists also reported that military helicopters flew over several cities, including Dmeir, 40 kilometers from Damascus.
New bombing also took place at night on several districts of Homs, including Khaldiye, according to the LCC. On Tuesday, 52 people, including 28 civilians, were killed in Syria, according to a report by the Observatory.