Annan admits Syria failure, at least 60 killed


International envoy Kofi Annan acknowledged the failure so far of his mission to bring peace to Syria, as more than 60 people were killed in violence on Saturday that also spilled over into Lebanon.
In comments published in French by the Le Monde newspaper, Annan was quoted as saying that significant efforts had been made to try to resolve the crisis peacefully and politically.
However, the plan had not been successful and perhaps there was no guarantee that it would succeed, he said. The Annan plan, which insists on a cessation of violence by all sides, has made little headway, and activists say at least an estimated 16,500 people have now died since the uprising began in March last year. UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Friday for scaling down an observer mission in Syria to refocus on political efforts to end the bloodshed. The former UN chief spoke of the importance of Russia — a Damascus ally which has so far blocked international action against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime — while stressing that Iran should be involved in discussions.
The UN-Arab League envoy, whose plan called for a ceasefire that has been ignored on a daily basis since April, said Syria’s ally Iran had a role to play in efforts to end the crisis despite US opposition. On the ground, Syrian forces bombarded towns in the northern province of Aleppo in violence on Saturday that claimed at least 60 lives across the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Regime forces are attempting to regain control over this (Aleppo) region, where they suffered heavy casualties over the past months,” the Britain-based Observatory said. — ‘Large number of families displaced’ — “A large number of families have been displaced from the area for fear of shelling and lack of water, electricity and medical services,” the watchdog added of the attacks in Aleppo.
In the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, seven members of the same family were among 13 people killed in a bombardment by regime forces, according to the Syrian Observatory. In Damascus, regime forces clashed with rebels and stormed the neighbourhood of Barzeh, attempting to break a strike, while a taxi driver was shot dead in the same area, it said.