Assad calls Syria vote, takes rebel city

2012-03-13 22:20

Damascus - Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday set an election for May 7, even as monitors said fresh violence cost more than 40 lives and a pro-government daily reported the capture of a rebel city.

Assad's announcement of parliamentary elections came as UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan said he was still expecting a response from the Syrian leader to "concrete proposals" to halt one year of bloodshed.

State news agency Sana said Assad, who has proposed a programme of reforms in the face of an unprecedented revolt, has set May 7 as the date for elections under a new constitution passed in February.

The elections would be the third such polls since Assad came to power in 2000, but the first under a multi-party system as authorised under the new law.

Washington immediately dismissed the proposed vote.

"Parliamentary elections for a rubber-stamp parliament in the middle of the kind of violence that we're seeing across the country - it's ridiculous," US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in Washington.

Annan, speaking to reporters in Ankara after meeting with Syria's opposition, said he was "expecting to hear from Syrian authorities today since I left some concrete proposals for them to consider".

But there was no response announced in Damascus by early evening.

Mopping up

Annan was referring to weekend meetings in Damascus with Assad, after which he had expressed optimism the crisis could be resolved peacefully but warned the situation in Syria was at a "dangerous" level.

The former UN chief also said he had a "useful meeting" with six representatives of the opposition Syrian National Council headed by Burhan Ghalioun, whom he said had "promised their full co-operation."

In the latest clashes, 22 members of the security forces were killed in two separate ambushes in the southern region of Dara'a and in Idlib province of northwest Syria, another hotspot of rebel operations, monitors said.

But as the regime battles to mop up resistance, Al-Watan said government forces had recaptured the rebel stronghold of Idlib city, following what activists said were three days of heavy shelling.

"A major operation launched three days ago in Idlib... ended in record time with army units wrapping up search operations during which dozens of armed men and fugitives were killed," the daily said.

Activists acknowledged the army had deployed in the city but were facing pockets of resistance by rebel fighters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that elsewhere in Idlib province, located near the Turkish border, security forces killed at least eight civilians on Tuesday.

The group, whose reports can not be verified due to government curbs on foreign media, also said eight civilians were killed in and around the central city of Homs, including a woman in Tal Kalakh, near the Lebanese border.

Another four civilians were killed in the Damascus region, said the Britain-based monitoring group, while a civilian and a member of the security forces were killed in the northern province of Aleppo.

Routes mined

Against that backdrop, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said around 30 000 Syrians had fled to neighbouring countries and another 200 000 had been displaced inside the country, quoting Syrian Red Crescent data.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that Syria has planted landmines near its borders with both countries, along routes used by refugees fleeing the country.

Russia, accused of having shielded its ally Syria, said it will press Damascus to accept international monitors who could observe the implementation of a "simultaneous" ceasefire.

"The objective is for both sides to understand that there is an independent observer watching how they meet demands," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow.

"We must not have a situation in which the government is required to leave the cities and villages while the armed groups are not made to do the same," he said.

Russia and China vetoed two past UN Security Council draft resolutions condemning Assad for the violence and have expressed reservations about a new US-backed version.

Conference

Also on the diplomatic front, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a second "Friends of Syria" conference would take place in Istanbul on April 2, following an initial forum in Tunis on February 24.

Despite international pressure and growing clamour for foreign intervention, Assad's regime has pushed on with its brutal crackdown on a year-long revolt that has killed more than 8 500 people, mostly civilians, according to activists.

On Monday, the opposition denounced the "massacre" of 47 women and children in the city of Homs. The regime blamed the killings on "armed terrorist gangs."

The grisly murders in Homs, Syria's third-largest city, came less than two weeks after regime troops stormed its rebel Baba Amr neighbourhood, following a month-long bombardment in which activists say 700 people were killed.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi called for an international probe into "crimes" committed against civilians in Syria.

"There must be an international, independent probe to reveal the truth about what is happening and identify those responsible for these crimes and refer them to justice," he said.

Read more on:    kofi annan  |  recep tayyip erdogan  |  bashar assad  |  sergei lavrov  |  syria  |  uprisings  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
8 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2820.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.