Syria scuttles peace plan

2012-04-08 19:55

Beirut - A UN-brokered plan to stop the bloodshed in Syria effectively collapsed on Sunday after President Bashar Assad's government raised new, last-minute demands that were swiftly rejected by the country's largest rebel group.

The peace plan, devised by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, was supposed to go into effect on Tuesday, with a withdrawal of Syrian forces from population centres, followed within 48 hours by a cease-fire by both sides in the uprising against four decades of repressive rule by the Assad family.

But on Sunday, Syria's foreign ministry said that ahead of any troop pullback, the government needs written guarantees from opposition fighters that they will lay down their weapons.

The commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Riad al-Asaad, said that while his group is ready to abide by a truce, it does not recognise the regime "and for that reason we will not give guarantees".

Annan's spokesperson had no comment on the setback. The envoy has not said what would happen if his deadlines were ignored.

Even before the setback, expectations were low that the Assad regime would honour the agreement.

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