SA condemns violence in Syria
Cape Town - South Africa has condemned the escalating violence in Syria and has urged that country to seek a peaceful political solution.
"The situation continues to escalate despite calls... for the Syrian government and the armed opposition to stop the violence and settle their differences in a peaceful manner," the department of international relations said in a statement on Thursday.
South Africa had consistently expressed its deep concern about the deteriorating political, security, socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Syria.
"We condemn the violent loss of life in Syria and call for maximum restraint from all the parties to the conflict.
"We urge the parties to immediately stop the violence and commit themselves to finding a peaceful political solution, through a Syrian-led and owned, transparent and all-inclusive political process that will fulfil the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."
Such a process should ensure a guarantee of the people's fundamental political rights and freedoms and deliver political reform, justice, human rights and socio-economic development.
South Africa welcomed and supported the appointment last month of former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan as UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, as well as the strong support expressed by the Security Council for his efforts.
"Even though the UN General Assembly mandated the appointment of a joint special envoy, the Security Council should remain seized with the matter, because ultimately any UN deployment will have to be mandated by the Security Council," it said.
Meanwhile, the United States has warned Syria to co-operate with a UN-backed peace plan.
The BBC reported on Wednesday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged President Bashar Assad to "take this path, commit to it, or face increasing pressure and isolation".
The peace plan, put forward by Annan, was endorsed by the UN Security Council earlier this week, with support from Russia and China.
Wire service reports out of Syria on Thursday, were that government forces had entered the city of Hama, after a night of heavy shelling.
According to UN estimates, more than 8 000 people have been killed in the year-long conflict, which observers say could develop into a full-blown civil war.