News24

Syria activists urge military intervention

2012-03-16 16:28

Damascus - Anti-regime protesters called on Friday for foreign military intervention in Syria, as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan prepared to brief a divided UN Security Council on his peace efforts.

Ahead of UN participation in a Syrian-led humanitarian mission to protest cities at the weekend, Annan was to give a videoconference briefing to the Security Council from Geneva on his talks with Assad in Damascus.

Gulf Arab states, meanwhile, said they were following Riyadh's lead in closing their Damascus embassies in protest at the violence, which monitors said on Thursday on the first anniversary of its start has cost more than 9 100 lives.

Activists called on their Facebook page, Syrian Revolution 2011, for nationwide protests after weekly Muslim prayers to demand "immediate military intervention by the Arabs and Muslims, followed by the rest of the world."

"The people want military intervention, the Free Syrian Army to be armed, and the fall of the regime," several thousand demonstrators chanted in Aleppo in northern Syria, an activist at the scene said in Beirut by telephone.

Other protests took place in the flashpoint provinces of Homs in central Syria and Daraa, in the south.

Military intervention


Huge rallies in support of President Bashar Assad were held in Damascus and other major cities on Thursday to mark the anniversary. But numbers have fallen at anti-regime demonstrations as security forces seize protest centres.

With the opposition divided, Western countries have been opposed to military intervention although Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Assad's fiercest critics in the Arab world, have come out in favour of arming the rebels.

Annan's briefing came amid mounting pessimism among diplomats of Western governments that have spearheaded demands for tough action about his mission's prospects for success.

The former UN chief has received a response to the "concrete proposals" he submitted to the Syrian leader last weekend but has more "questions and is seeking answers", his spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was using its contacts with the Syrian regime to fully co-operate with Annan but that other world powers should use their influence with the armed opposition.

"Other Security Council members should also do their job and demand the opposition not provoke an escalation of the situation," he said.

Veto

Annan has said his talks were centred on the need for an immediate halt to the bloodshed, access for humanitarian organisations, and for political dialogue, which the opposition has so far rejected.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for unity on Monday as a meeting of Security Council foreign ministers exposed the stark divide between Arab and Western governments and Damascus allies Beijing and Moscow on how to respond to the crisis.

China and Russia have twice used their veto powers to block draft resolutions condemning the Syrian authorities, charging that they were unbalanced and aimed at regime change.

Moscow has also hit out at a new US draft, saying that the onus it places on the regime to halt the violence first is unreasonable in a conflict that is now as much armed insurgency as peaceful protest movement.

In a breakdown of the 9 113 deaths in the past 12 months, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll comprised 6 645 civilians, 1 997 members of the security forces and 471 rebels.

On the ground, activists said Free Syrian Army rebels clashed with regular troops between Artuz and Muadhamiya in the Damascus region overnight, without giving any immediate report of casualties.

30 000 refugees

But Syrian Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said seven people were killed in overnight fighting in Dmeir and Qatana, also in the Damascus region.

The Observatory said at least 34 other people were killed in violence on Thursday, mostly in Idlib province bordering Turkey, where authorities said they were making contingency plans for a major refugee exodus.

The United Nations estimates more than 30 000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring states and another 200 000 have been displaced within the country by the violence.

Turkey on Friday advised its own citizens to leave Syria.

"Developments in Syria pose serious security risks for our nationals," the foreign ministry said. "Therefore it is strongly recommended that Turkish nationals currently in Syria leave and return home."

The United Nations and Organisation of Islamic Co-operation are to send experts on a Syrian government-led humanitarian mission to the protest cities of Homs, Daraa and Hama where thousands have reportedly been killed.

Embassies close


UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos stressed "it is increasingly vital that humanitarian organisations have unhindered access to identify urgent needs and provide emergency care and basic supplies. There is no time to waste".

Early on Friday, the Gulf Co-operation Council announced that all six of its member states were closing their Damascus embassies after having last month withdrawn their ambassadors.

European Union foreign ministers are to mull similar action next week, but EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said on Friday that she will maintain the bloc's diplomatic presence in Damascus.

Comments
  • nowicki1 - 2012-03-16 16:54

    "The people want military intervention, the Free Syrian Army to be armed, and the fall of the regime," This does not represent the interests of the Syrian people. Disgusting and dangerous propaganda. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

      Fred - 2012-03-16 17:43

      If you had lost your family and friends to torture and cruel death at the hands of state-sponsored terrorism, you'd understand better. It is completely understandable that those Syrians who are being targeted on this way are calling for military intervention. Hell, they were demonstrating peacefully for almost months, while Assad was picking them off with sniper-fire and bombs aimed at civilian neighborhoods.

  • Michael - 2012-03-16 20:47

    Fred on another blog earlier this afternoon: "as far as I can see few are calling for war" Fred Below: "Those Syrians being targeted this way are calling for military intervention" Are there two Freds? Or is it the same Fred "out of touch" who is now so mixed up and confused?

      Fred - 2012-03-16 21:26

      You. THOSE SYRIANS that are being targeted are calling for military intervention. I'm not a Syrian who's being targeted.

      Michael - 2012-03-16 21:32

      Yes but you couldn't see them this afternoon nor could you see the others mentioned above as calling for war, you. Very confused individual , shame.

      Fred - 2012-03-17 00:11

      ?

  • Anthony - 2012-03-16 22:18

    It are the supporters of this terrorist assad, who want a full scale civil war in Syria. This madnes , of thousands of civilians being murdered, can be stopped, WITHIN 24 HOURS !!!, Just like, 95 % of the killings stopped after gaddafi , stared his opposition in the face, for the first and the last time!!!!!!! Only one thing has to happen; this assad must go !! It are only the most naive, who believe, assad can survive this latest uprising. But he won't leave voluntar; for two reasons; assad believes this country belongs to him and his family, and Russia is confronted by one of its biggest blunders it made in years. If this assad is not removed shortly, the opposition WILL be armed, and all hell will break loose. These brave opposition members, who for almost one year, mostly unarmed, had gone onto the streets ,to demand an end to this assad dynasty, are going to show these assad dogs, hiding on roof tops, shooting life amunition at women and children, WHO IS THE BOSS IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOODS; A terrorist organisation under the command of this assad and his Russian "advisers", OR the PEOPLE of Syria. Like in Tunesia, like in Egypt, like in libya, the people will be the victors and the government terrorist, will be the loosers. There is still time to avoid a greater bloodbath, but it will have to be deeds and not words to stop this.

      Michael - 2012-03-17 09:21

      A dog foaming at the mouth. Will you throw someone wif a stone Anthony?

      Anthony - 2012-03-17 09:59

      @Michael, Something drastic must have happened in your life, as it is ""not normal"", in a conflict with a MASS MURDERER and UNARMED PROTESTERS,to take the side of MURDERER!!!!!!

  • Sthandwa.Sharlom1 - 2012-03-16 22:57

    I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT THE "OUTSIDE" SUPPORT, LIKE IN ANY OHTER UPRISING, HAVE THEIR OWN PERSONAL AGENDAS. E.G. AMERICAS INTERVENTION IN LIBYA, YES THY DID THE COUNTRY GOOD BUT LOOK AT THE CURRENT PURCHASING PRICE OF OIL TO THE U.S AND COMPARE IT TO BEFOR KADAFFIS ASSASINATION. YES THEY DO GOOD BUT THEY ARE LIKEWISE DRIVEN BY FUTURE REFERRENCES, INDIRECTLY THOUGH. THATS MY PERSONAL OPINION, AND IM NOT IN SYRIA.

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