Rebels give ultimatum to Assad

Published May 31st, 2012 - 06:53 GMT

Syrian rebels gave the regime of Bashar al-Assad until Friday noon to implement the Annan peace plan which includes a cessation of violence in the country, otherwise they see themselves free not to respect the plan. "If the Syrian regime does not meet the deadline of Friday noon, the command of the Free Syrian Army would be free not to abide to the Annan plan (...) and our duty is (... ) to protect civilians, "said the FSA in a statement.

The rebels called for a "commitment not to attack the UN observer mission and the opening of serious negotiations through the United Nations to restore power to the people.

On Wednesday, the Syrian army resumed shelling of the town of Hula, the scene of a massacre denounced by the international community. The violence continues in Syria with yesterday's death toll at 62.

The main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has accused Russia of encouraging the regime of Bashar al-Assad to commit "savage crimes" after the criticism expressed by Moscow over the Western diplomatic sanctions taken against Syria.

In Geneva, the deputy of International envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, the French Jean-Marie Guehenno, said after speaking by videoconference to the UN Security Council, they expect "concrete gestures" by the regime on stopping the violence, the release of detainees and allowing humanitarian access.

In the Security Council, the divisions have resurfaced. The German Ambassador Peter Wittig has expressed hope that the killing in Hula "opened the eyes" of Assad's allies, such as Moscow and Beijing. However, the Russian representative Vitaly Churkin argued that the Syrian opposition also did not respect the Annan plan and refused any dialogue with Damascus.

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