Assad Claims to Accept Peace Plan, But Attacks Continue

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government said they accepted the proposal for ending the violence in his country, but regime-sponsored attacks continued amidst doubts whether Assad would uphold his commitment. According to a Tuesday press statement from the spokesman for United Nations envoy for Syria Kofi Annan, the Syrian government told Annan they accepted his six-point peace plan.

The plan calls for Syria to embark on a Syrian-led political process to fulfill legitimate demands of the populace, for all parties to end the bloodshed and to permit a daily ceasefire window for humanitarian aid to reach the needy civilians.

Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the Joint Special Envoy, said in his statement regarding Assad’s acceptance of the plan, “Mr. Annan views this as an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed, provide aid to the suffering, and create an environment conducive to a political dialogue that would fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”

However, the regime-led violence against the opposition, which has now occurred for more than a year and killed thousands of civilians, continued on Wednesday.

US spokesperson Victoria Nuland, in comments posted on the State Department website, said the crackdown was still widespread.

“We’ve seen arrests and violence continuing today across Syria, from Daraa to Hama,” said Nuland, “so it is clear that the Assad regime has not yet taken the necessary steps to implement the commitment that it’s made… we will judge him by his actions, not by his promises.”

While Assad has yet to convince the Americans he is prepared to move forward on the peace plan, Nuland didn’t want to preempt Annan’s forthcoming report on the Syrian situation regarding whether there’s optimism on reaching key points of Annan’s plan. The UN envoy is set to speak with the Security Council next week.

“[Annan] is the one who’s had the most direct, most current contact with the Assad regime, so I’m not going to get ahead of his report on where he thinks we are with the regime, other than to say that their conduct of the last 24 hours does not indicate that they are taking the kinds of steps” called for by the US, said Nuland.

In addition to next week’s Security Council briefing, the Friends of the Syrian People meeting—where members of the international community will again meet with the Syrian opposition—is set for this weekend.

Said Nuland, “It’s incumbent on all of us to keep the pressure on Assad to meet the commitment that he’s made, and that’s our intention over the next few days.”

Annan’s spokesman also noted the importance of implementation. “Mr. Annan has stressed that implementation will be key, not only for the Syrian people, who are caught in the middle of this tragedy, but also for the region and the international community as a whole.

“As the Syrian government acts on its commitments, Mr. Annan will move urgently to work with all parties to secure implementation of the plan at all levels.”

(By Staff,, March 28, 2012)