Annan Says Syria Ceasefire 'Appears to be Holding', Ban Hopes to Send Monitors Soonإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said Thursday that a ceasefire in Syria appears to be holding but President Bashar al-Assad must carry out all parts of an agreed peace plan, as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said plans were being made to send an observer team to Syria as soon as possible.
"Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground," Annan said in a statement released as he briefed the U.N. Security Council on the 13-month-old crisis in which the U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed.
A ceasefire came into effect in Syria on Thursday and Annan said: "I am encouraged by reports that the situation in Syria is relatively calm and that the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding."
Annan added, however, that the Syrian government must carry out all parts of the agreed peace plan which includes a withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from Syria's cities.
"All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process," he said.
Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon said that plans were being made to send observers to Syria, starting with the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping general as early as Friday.
"We are working to send an observer team as promptly as possible," Ban told a news conference in Geneva, saying Thursday marked a "critical moment" in the U.N.'s six-point plan for ending the violence in Syria.
Ban said he had spoken with Annan who said he would dispatch Norwegian general Robert Mood and his team "as early as tomorrow (Friday) as a way of preparing this observer mission."
Speaking about the ceasefire which came into force at 6:00 am Damascus time (0300 GMT), the U.N. secretary general said: "The situation looks calmer. We are following it closely.
"The world is watching however with skeptical eyes," he added, since previous promises made by the Syrian regime "have not been kept."
"Once again I call on the government of Syria to fully implement ... the six-point plan," said Ban.
"I also call on the Syrian opposition to sustain the cessation of violence in all its forms," he said. "This is a time for a fundamental change of course. It's time to stop the killing."
Below is the full text of the statement released Thursday by Annan:
"I am encouraged by reports that the situation in Syria is relatively calm and that the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding.
"Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground. This is bringing much-needed relief and hope to the Syrian people who have suffered so much for so long in this brutal conflict. This must now be sustained. All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process. I urge all Syrians to seize this opportunity.
"The international community is determined to work with the Syrian people to support this process.
"The (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will be asking the Security Council for approval of the deployment of a UN observer mission as soon as possible. This will allow us to move quickly to launch a serious dialogue that will address the concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people.
"This is the time for all Syrians to come together in the hope that they can begin to heal their wounds and initiate a political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens have equal rights and equal opportunities, regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs."