Annan Urges Assad for 'Bold Steps Now' to End Violenceإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to "act now" to end 15 months of bloodshed, during a meeting in Damascus on Tuesday.
"I appealed to him for bold steps now -- not tomorrow, now -- to create momentum for the implementation of the plan," Annan told reporters in the Syrian capital.
Annan arrived in the country on Monday for talks with Assad, the opposition and representatives of Syrian civil society.
In his meeting with Assad, Annan conveyed "the grave concern of the international community about the violence in Syria, including the recent shocking events in Houla."
The U.N. human rights agency said most of the more than 108 victims of Friday to Saturday's massacre were executed, and cited local residents as attributing responsibility to pro-regime paramilitary groups.
"We are at a tipping point," said Annan, who has previously warned that Syria might slide into civil war should abuses continue.
"The Syrian people do not want the future to be one of bloodshed and division. Yet the killings continue and the abuses are still with us today," he added.
In protest at the recent repression and killings, several Western countries expelled Syrian diplomats on Tuesday, prompting the main opposition coalition to reiterate calls for the international community to use "necessary force" against Assad's regime.
"As I reminded the president, the international community will soon be reviewing the situation," Annan said.
"The government, and all government-backed militias could stop all military operations and show maximum restraint... I also appeal to the armed opposition to cease acts of violence."
Annan said he and Assad "agreed on the importance of humanitarian aid flowing to all parts of the country, including unfettered access for the U.N. and aid agencies."
He also "urged the president to respect freedom of peaceful protest," one of the stipulations of the beleaguered six-point plan, and which regime forces have systematically broken in recent weeks by firing on demonstrators to repress dissent.