Syrian opposition slams UN declaration
The U.N. Security Council adopted Wednesday a statement, calling on Damascus to cooperate with envoy Kofi Annan. The text was agreed by the 15 Council members, while new the Syrian army conducted more operations, mainly around Homs.
On its part, the Syrian opposition reacted strongly Thursday, saying "the UN declaration gives [Syrian President] Assad more time to kill."
The declaration "urges" Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition to "work in good faith" with Kofi Annan the UN and the Arab League envoy, and to implement "fully and immediately" a plan to end the crisis. This statement carries less weight compared to a resolution. It was adopted by consensus, without the possibility of veto.
Hailing it as a "positive step", the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Bashar al-Assad that the world would increase the pressure on his regime if he did not implement the proposals of Kofi Annan. The adoption of the text "shows that there is a unanimity in the Security Council to support the mission of Kofi Annan", said the spokesman for the White House, Jay Carney.
Kofi Annan for his part said he was "encouraged by the support and solidarity" of the Council and urged Damascus to adopt his plan. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also said he was "encouraged by the clear and united message" of the Council. The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, for his part said Thursday that "the Russians had a little change" on the Syrian issue.
If Annan's plan is not implemented, the Council "will consider other actions it deems appropriate," the statement said, without elaborating. This vague formula and less threatening than had originally been envisaged allowed to overcome the reservations of Russia. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed satisfaction with the declaration as it did not contains "ultimatums or threats".
China has meanwhile welcomed the adoption of the text, seeing a positive trend towards a political resolution of the crisis and calling on the regime of Bashar al-Assad and all parties to "immediately end the violence," according to comments by its UN ambassador Li Baodong quoted by the official Xinhua news agency.
The text mentions among the proposals of Kofi Annan "an effective ceasefire to all forms of armed violence by all parties" under UN supervision, "the delivery of humanitarian assistance" and the release of "detained persons."
In a related development, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which consists primarily of deserters, has set up a Military Council to Damascus and its countryside regions, indicated a military dissident who spoke on YouTube.
"I, Colonel Khaled Mohamed al-Hamoud, announces the creation of the Military Council of Damascus and the countryside which will be responsible for military operations in the region," said the man who announced his defection from the army last month, also on YouTube.
Ahmad al-Khatib, spokesman of the Revolutionary Council in the Damascus area, in turn indicated that the new body is a "unified leadership of deserters from the ranks of the army ".