Annan expected in Damascus as Clinton urges Assad to step down
The Syrian authorities announced the arrival in Damascus of International envoy Kofi Annan on Monday. This announcement comes as at least 37 people were reported dead Sunday.
On her part, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a political transition in Syria in order to save "a catastrophic attack." She reiterated that the days of President Bashar al-Assad's regime were numbered. "If a cessation of violence and a political transition are reached, there will be a chance to spare the Syrian nation from a catastrophic attack which would be dangerous for the country but also for the region," Clinton told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference in Tokyo.
She stressed that Damascus has so far has been holding back all the efforts of Annan. "There has been no movement by the Syrian regime to respect" the Annan plan, she insisted.
The spokesman of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jihad Makdissi, on Sunday told AFP that Annan was expected Monday in Damascus, "as part of his mission, for talks with Syrian officials about his plan" to end the crisis. Annan has recently considered a proposed visit to Damascus, his third since the start of his mission.
On the ground, the Syrian army resumed bombings in the east and north, and launched coordinated attacks on Qousseir and Rastane - two rebel strongholds in the province of Homs, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). In total, the violence has left at least 37 dead, half of them civilians and half army deserters, said SOHR at noon.
On Saturday, the operations of Syrian forces and fighting between soldiers and rebels killed at least 77 people (39 civilians, 25 soldiers and 13 rebels), the NGO said.