2012-04-07 13:00:03

27 Syrians Dead in Run-up to Truce

A supporter of Egyptian Salafi presidential candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail, waves the Syrian opposition flag as they gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo April 6, 2012, to protest against what they say is an orchestrated attack against his campaign that was seeking to prevent him from contesting in the race.

At least 27 Syrian soldiers, rebels and civilians were killed in violence on Friday, opposition activists said, four days before a troop pullback agreed by President Bashar al-Assad as part of a U.N.-backed peace plan.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it had met a delegation from peace envoy Kofi Annan this week and confirmed its fighters would stop shooting if Assad withdraws his tanks and troops to barracks before a ceasefire deadline next Thursday.

"Talks were held and the FSA said if the regime commits to the plan and withdraws from the cities and returns to its original barracks then we are committed to the plan," Colonel Riad al-Asaad told Reuters. He declined to give further details.

The plan calls for a troop withdrawal by April 10 and a ceasefire by April 12. Assad told Annan two weeks ago he had accepted the terms. The Annan plan does not stipulate a withdrawal to barracks. It says the army must "begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers".

But on Friday at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sharply criticized the Syrian government for the persistent attacks on civilians and demanded it keep its pledge to halt all military operations.

"The 10 April timeline to fulfill the Government's implementation of its (ceasefire and troop withdrawal) commitments, as endorsed by the Security Council, is not an excuse for continued killing," the statement from Ban's press office said.

"The Syrian authorities remain fully accountable for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law," Ban's statement said. "These must stop at once."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said shelling had killed at least 10 people, including four rebel fighters, in the flashpoint central city of Homs. Two soldiers died in separate clashes and one person was killed in the town of Douma, it said.

The British-based Observatory, which has a network of contacts in Syria, also reported seven civilians and four soldiers killed in clashes and bombardments in Anadan, north of Aleppo. Three people were killed in Hama, it said.

 

Syria

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