The Freeland File
Global Market Data
Tales from the Trail
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Our best photos from the last 24 hours. Full Article
Images of March
White House in damage control over Obama Supreme Court remarks
04 Apr 2012
Americans brace for next foreclosure wave
04 Apr 2012
Google takes wraps off Web-based digital glasses
With new momentum, Romney accuses Obama of hiding
04 Apr 2012
Food inflation seen back on the table as prices rise
04 Apr 2012
Obama confident Supreme Court will uphold healthcare law
Government plans to sue Arizona sheriff for targeting Latinos
As Paul’s White House campaign fades, supporters face choices
World's biggest car delivery centre
Wed, Apr 4 2012
Rare Indochina tigers thrive in Berlin
Tue, Apr 3 2012
Massive tornado churns across Texas
Tue, Apr 3 2012
Over 30 reported dead in Syria despite truce talk
Turkey says 1,622 fled Syria in past two days
Annan to hold Syria talks in Iran on April 11: spokesman
France says Assad pretending to accept peace plan
Annan team arrives in Syria to discuss monitors
ICRC says gets Syria's permission to expand aid work
Analysis & Opinion
Why Syriaâ€™s Assad is still in power
Russian Orthodox Church says it’s under attack after backing Putin
United Nations »
Shelling in Homs despite ceasefire pledge
Mon, Apr 2 2012
Unrest in Syria
Red Cross boss visits Syria
1 of 13. Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Kafranbel, near Idlib April 3, 2012. Picture taken April 3.
Credit: Reuters/Raad Al Fares/Shaam News Network/Handout
By Erika Solomon and Douglas Hamilton
Thu Apr 5, 2012 11:51am EDT
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria told U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan it had begun pulling troops out of several cities on Thursday in line with a peace plan accepted by President Bashar al-Assad, but his foes said the army was still firing in those towns and elsewhere.
Annan said the Syrian army and rebels must end all violence by 6 a.m. Syrian time (0400 GMT) on April 12 if the government meets its agreed deadline to halt fighting two days earlier.
"I urge the government and the opposition commanders to issue clear instructions so that the message reaches across the country, down to the fighter and soldier at the local level," the former U.N. chief told the U.N. General Assembly.
Annan's spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said in Geneva that Syrian authorities had "told us that they have begun withdrawing troops from certain areas", namely the cities of Deraa, Idlib and Zabadani. He said this was being verified, but did not say how.
"They are complete liars, there is no army withdrawal, they are still in the middle of the city. They fired on the city this morning, like they do every day," a man calling himself Abu Mustafa said by telephone from Zabadani near the Lebanon border.
However, he did acknowledge a modest pullback. "The army withdrew 15 tanks yesterday, but the rest are all around the checkpoints as usual," Abu Mustafa said.
For more stories on Syria, click on [nL6E8ES5CL]
For graphic on fighting link.reuters.com/zan47s
Interactive look at Syria link.reuters.com/pyt37s
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 33 people, including 14 soldiers, killed on Thursday, 16 of them in the city of Homs and 14 in Idlib province.
Video filmed by activists just outside Aleppo, Syria's second city, showed five tanks and armored personnel carriers firing heavy machineguns as they advanced through a village.
A diplomatic face-off intensified between Syria's ally Russia and Western powers who want Assad to go. France accused the 46-year-old Syrian leader of cheating on his promises, while Moscow told opposition supporters abroad not to set ultimatums.
But the U.N. Security Council was expected to adopt without objection a statement urging Syria to meet Annan's deadline.
ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said attacks on civilians had not stopped and the Syria conflict was getting worse despite Assad's acceptance of Annan's initial plan to end the crisis.
"The violence and assaults in civilian areas have not stopped. The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate," Ban told the U.N. General Assembly.
More than 42,000 Syrians have fled the country since the uprising began a year ago and quickly descended into violence.
Turkey said over 1,600 had crossed the border in the last two days, twice the recent average rate.
The United Nations says Assad's forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the past year. Syria told the world body this week that 6,044 had died, including 2,566 soldiers and police.
Blasts and gunfire rocked Douma and activists said army reinforcements headed for the town near Damascus shortly before a senior U.N. peacekeeping official arrived in the capital.
Norwegian Army former Chief of Staff Major-General Robert Mood, 54, brought an advance planning team of 10 to decide how around 250 U.N. monitors might oversee the truce between army and insurgents due to take effect by next Thursday.
Some analysts say any arrival of men in U.N. blue helmets will embolden a return to mass protests, as happened when an Arab League monitoring mission began operating in Syria in December. It was later withdrawn as violence increased.
Mood has experience of armed U.N. peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, where around 60,000 troops were deployed in 1999 after a ceasefire and army withdrawal agreement were already in place.
In Syria, where Western powers have ruled out military intervention, Annan envisages only unarmed U.N. monitors.
QUEST FOR CONTRIBUTORS
U.N. member states were already being asked to provide troops for the mission, to be deployed after April 10, Annan's spokesman said. Annan will hold talks on Syria in Iran, Assad's main regional ally, on April 11, Fawzi added.
Annan has assiduously sought backing from Assad's friends as well as his foes for his difficult peace mission.
Russia said it could support a new U.N. Security Council statement backing Annan's timeline for a Syria ceasefire if it does not level "threats and ultimatums" against Assad.
"The Syrian government has accepted (Annan's) proposals and has begun implementing them, and it is very important not to undermine this process with ultimatums and threats," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.
Syria's state news agency quoted Lavrov as telling Annan by telephone that "not only the Syrian authorities, but also the opposition" must take steps to implement the envoy's peace plan.
Russia has taken a pro-Assad tone, but some diplomats say Moscow has grown increasingly frustrated with Damascus and its failure to end the uprising, even as it denounces Western, Arab and Turkish calls for the Syrian leader to quit.
(Additional reporting by Ayat Basma in Beirut, Can Sezer in Turkey, Olga Dzyubenko in Bishkek, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Catherine Bremer in Paris, Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles in Geneva, Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations in New York; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.