United Nations, Apr 3: The Syrian government has agreed to pull back its troops from cities and complete withdrawal of heavy weapons by April 10, UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council today, even as western nations expressed doubts that the new promises would be kept.
The former UN chief briefed the powerful 15-member UNSC in a closed session by video-conference from Geneva on the latest developments concerning Syria and his efforts to address the crisis in the country.
He asked the Council to support the April 10 deadline and begin consideration of a potential UN monitoring mission to Syria.
Later talking to reporters, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Annan has pressed the Syrian government to cease troop movements, use of heavy weapons and pull out of troops from population centres by April 10.
Annan told the UNSC that the Syrian foreign minister sent him a letter yesterday, in which he said that the Syrian military will begin immediately and will complete by April 10 “the cessation of all forward deployment and use of heavy weapons and will complete its withdrawal from population centers,” Rice, who is the current President of the UNSC, said.
Annan urged the government of Syria to start implementing the withdrawal plans immediately and to ensure that forces move no further into population centers.
Rice said while the Syrian government has not put any “conditions or preconditions” to begin implementing Annan's peace plan, she cautioned that “over the course of the last many months promises (have been) made and promises broken.”
“We have seen commitments to end the violence followed by massive intensification of violence,” she said, adding that the proof will lie in actions, not in words.