Syria: Kofi Annan warns of 'all-out war'


Kofi Annan, UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, attends an Arab ministerial committee meeting in Doha to discuss the Syrian crisis on June 2, 2012. Qatar urged Annan to set a timeframe for his Syria peace mission, and asked the UN Security Council to apply Chapter VII which permits military intervention.



Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League envoy, warned on Saturday that the possibility of all-out war in Syria was becoming increasingly likely after his meeting with President Bashar al-Assad last Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Arab League, Annan criticized Assad for the atrocities, arrests and other abuses committed by his forces, and for ignoring the international outcry against him.

"The specter of all-out civil war, with a worrying sectarian dimension, grows by the day," Annan said, according to the BBC.

Annan conceded that efforts by the UN and Arab League to broker a ceasefire between the Syrian government and opposition forces had not taken hold.

Calling the Houla massacre – where more than 100 Syrians, including women and children, were killed – a terrible crime, Annan added, "Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are internally displaced. Meanwhile, arbitrary detentions continue, and alongside that, widespread allegations of human rights abuses of all kinds," according to Reuters.

Annan said it was vital "to keep our goals firmly in view: stopping the killing, helping the suffering population, securing a political transition - and, I would add, ensuring that the crisis does not spread to the neighbors," according to the BBC.

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The head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, called on the UN Security Council to take action at the meeting. He said, "I urge you to move quickly to end all acts of violence in Syria, and to take the necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians, including increasing the number of international monitors," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Meanwhile in Syria, at least 39 people were killed in Syria, according to Agence France Presse, including 15 civilians and 22 soldiers.

A US official said that Washington and Moscow have agreed on the need to work together on Syria, after a phone conversation between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

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The official said, "They both agreed that we've got to work together," according to AFP.

Russia is one of Syria's most important allies, and to date has used its power to prevent foreign intervention in Syria, twice vetoing UN sanctions against Syria, according to the Associated Press.

After being pressed on Russia's response, Yuri Ushakov, a former ambassador to the US who advises Russian President Vladimir Putin on foreign policy said, "With our German and French partners, we agreed to increase our work" with the different sides in the Syrian conflict, according to Bloomberg.

"We need to compel both the authorities and the opposition to get the political process going," he added. "We’re prepared to do that, and we called on our partners to also use their areas of influence to actively weigh on the relevant forces and leaders."

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