Syria says UN envoy can only succeed if rebels lose outside support
Reuters in Beirut
Syria said on Monday new UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi could only make headway if outside countries ceased helping rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad and instead declared support for a UN-backed peace plan.
Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, has picked up the baton from former UN chief Kofi Annan, who drew up the six-point plan for Syria, but a ceasefire he declared on April 12 failed to take hold. Violence has worsened since then.
“The conditions for success for Lakhdar Brahimi in his mission is for specific countries – Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – to announce their commitment to the six-point plan and completely stop sending weapons (to the rebels) and close borders to fighters and close fighter training camps,” Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi told a news conference in Damascus.
“The ball is not in the Syrian court, the ball is in the Saudi, Qatari, Turkish, European and US court,” he said.
Damascus verbally accepted Annan’s plan in April, but failed to implement its main call for an end to violence and a pullout of Syrian troops and heavy weapons from towns and cities.
Syria has long accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of supporting rebels during the 17-month-old anti-Assad uprising and says neighbouring Turkey allows fighters to train on its soil.
Brahimi told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday that diplomatic attempts to end the conflict were “nearly impossible.”
Annan, his predecessor, resigned as UN-Arab League envoy to Syria last month after blaming “finger-pointing and name-calling” at the UN Security Council for hampering his efforts.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since protests against Assad’s rule first erupted in March last year.
Zoabi also took aim at newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, who said last week that solidarity with the Syrian people “against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty” and a strategic necessity.
“After (President Hosni) Mubarak fled and his place was filled with another president, the only difference between him and Mubarak was his beard,” Zoabi said, adding that Mursi was supporting Israel and had not helped the Palestinian cause.
“Spilt Syrian blood is the responsibility of Mohamed Mursi and those like him because he sends weapons and money and provides political support (to the rebels).
Meanwhile on Monday, a Syrian government warplane bombed a building in the northern rebel-held town of Al-Bab in Aleppo province on Monday, killing at least 10 men, six women and two children, a human rights watchdog said.
Violence also flared in the capital Damascus, where rebels said they are going back on the offensive after being pushed back by regime forces, and in the northwestern province of Idlib, where four troops were killed in clashes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Among the dead in the Al-Bab strike were a girl and a boy, Rami Abdel Rahman, director of Britain-based Observatory, told reporters. “They died when the fighter jet bombed the building where they were sheltered.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground, said the toll was likely to rise.
“There are still people stuck in the rubble but nobody can go and help them because the aerial attacks have not ceased,” it said.
The airstrike on Al-Bab followed a series of attacks on towns and villages in the Aleppo countryside, as regime forces fight to break rebel supply lines into the city.
The army also pounded several districts of the city of Aleppo, the observatory said, more than six weeks after the start of what President Bashar al-Assad’s regime warned would be “the mother of all battles” in Syria’s commercial hub.
State news agency SANA said on Monday that “our brave armed forces continued to pursue terrorists... who sustained heavy losses,” adding that the army “seized large quantities of arms and ammunition” from the rebels on the outskirts of Aleppo city.