A United Nations ceasefire plan to stop the violence in Syria is now into its sixth week and with daily reports of further bloodshed, there is little sign that the plan is working.
“The [peace] plan isn’t working as it should but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. I would look at the monitors on the ground not as [a] force to monitor a ceasefire but as a force to really establish as to what is really happening on the ground.“
– Ammar Waqqaf, a member of the Syrian Social Club
The latest images from the town of Houla are a sobering reminder of just how far Syria is from any peaceful path out of the 14-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
According to the UN mission, 92 people were killed in the carnage, with 32 children under the age of 10 among the dead.
The families of the dead have said that they will not bury them until the UN observers in the country witness the bodies – the result of what they call a massacre.
The Syrian National Council has now demanded an urgent meeting of the UN’s Security Council.
It blames the massacre not on government supporters acting on their own, but on government troops carrying out orders.
The road to the ill-fated peace plan has been difficult and bloody:
- On March 27, Syria agreed to accept Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, which includes a commitment to work to address the legitimate concerns of the Syrian people, end the violence and send its soldiers back to their barracks
- But by April 10, Syria had failed to meet the deadline to withdraw its troops from residential areas
“This horrible incident didn’t stop the Syrian people from fighting this regime …. We don’t ask the international community to intervene, we don’t beg them to intervene, we tell them: ‘This is your job, this is your duty and you cannot turn your face away forever from what is happening in Syria’.”
– Akil Hashem,a former brigadier general in the Syrian army
- And although a ceasefire was meant to come into effect on April 12, the violence continued
- On April 27, a suicide bomber in the capital Damascus killed at least 11 worshippers leaving Friday prayers. The Syrian government blamed the attack on what they called terrorist groups
- And earlier this month, 55 people were killed in a pair of explosions near an intelligence compound in Damascus.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ secretary-general, has confirmed that, for now, there is no backup plan for stopping the fighting in Syria.
“At this time, we don’t have any plan B,” he said. “The joint special envoy Kofi Annan has proposed six peace proposals, among which the complete cessation of violence is number one. Unfortunately, this has not been implemented while, with the deployment of monitoring missions, we have seen some dampening effect.”
Inside Syria with presenter Hazem Sika speaks to guests: Akil Hashem, a former brigadier general in the Syrian army; Alan George, a professor at St Antony’s college at Oxford University and author of Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom; and Ammar Waqqaf, a member of the Syrian Social Club, a group that advocates reform and not regime change in Syria.
FACTS ABOUT THE LATEST SYRIAN VIOLENCE:
- Violence in Syria continues despite a ceasefire and UN monitors on the ground
- Activists say many of the wounded in Houla were women and children
- Houla is an opposition stronghold, 40km from the city of Homs
- Activists say Houla is a Sunni town surrounded by minority Alawites
- Ban Ki-moon says the Syrian army has not stopped using heavy weapons
- Ban says there has been “small progress” on Annan’s peace plan and the situation remains extremely serious
- Only 200 of a planned 300 UN monitors are deployed in Syria to observe implementation of the ceasefire plan
- The UN says both sides have broken the ceasefire