Syria says withdrawal started
The Syrian army bombed several towns Tuesday despite promises from Damascus to implement the plan of the international envoy Kofi Annan. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured that Syria had begun to implement the Annan plan, but called his ally to be "more active" and "firmer" in its application. He made these comments during a press conference with his counterpart Walid Moallem.
"We discussed with Minister Mouallem details of the plan (Annan). We were informed about the beginning of the implementation of this plan by the Syrian leadership," Lavrov said.
"We have already completed the withdrawal of our military units in some provinces," said Mr. Moallem. "The cease-fire must begin with the arrival of international observers," he added. Muallem's visit to Moscow coincides with the deadline set by the UN for a withdrawal of the Syrian army and the start of a full cease-fire on Thursday.
In addition, Mr. Moallem once again accused Turkey of arming and supporting the rebels. He spoke 24 hours after the shootings from Syria have caused injuries on the Turkish side. This incident, the first of its kind in Turkey, was added to the death of a Lebanese cameraman, reporting from the border with Syria.
On his part, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday argued the incident "was a clear violation on the border." "We obviously take the necessary measures," he added, without specifying which measures. The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has cut short a visit to China and had immediately returned to Turkey because of this rise in tension between the two countries.
"Turkey supports the illegal armed groups, providing them with weapons (...) and contributes to the unlawful entry of militants to Syria," stated Mr. Moallem, saying "it contradicts the Annan plan".
According to Ankara, some 25,000 Syrians took refuge on its territory since the start of the protests against President Bashar al-Assad on 15 March 2011.